Beachy Books to publish historic novel by Heather Cooper of true story of headstrong assistant to pioneering Victorian photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron.

Beachy Books has acquired ‘Arresting Beauty’ by Isle of Wight author Heather Cooper, an historic romance novel based on the true-life story of Mary Ryan, the maid and assistant of pioneering Victorian portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.

Publisher Philip Bell acquired UK and Commonwealth excluding Canada publishing rights from Sarah Such at the Sarah Such Literary Agency. Arresting Beauty will be published by Beachy Books in the UK in hardback and e-book on September 30th 2023.

Based on true historic events, the novel follows the extraordinary story of Mary Ryan, who was found begging on Putney Heath at the age of ten by the celebrated Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Julia takes Mary into her magnificently bohemian household, to be trained as a maid and educated alongside her own sons. When Julia decides to move to Freshwater in the Isle of Wight, to live close to her great friend Alfred Tennyson, Mary—clever and rebellious—finds herself uncomfortably poised between two worlds—that of a servant girl in one, and in another, artistic assistant to Julia and befriending the likes of Tennyson, battling class and attitudes of the time to fulfil her own goals and perhaps even find love.

Philip Bell said: ‘I’m so excited to be publishing Heather Cooper’s latest novel as I love her writing. When I first read the story, through the authentic voice that Heather has conjured for headstrong Mary Ryan, I was immediately transported into her world and incredible true story of finding her own voice alongside her artistic and eccentric mistress, Julia Margaret Cameron. I also have a very special connection with the Isle of Wight where I used to live and still publish many Island authors and books.’

Heather Cooper said, ‘I am so pleased that Beachy Books has acquired my novel Arresting Beauty, particularly as Beachy Books has a special connection with the Isle of Wight, and this book captures a moment of Island history during its extraordinary Victorian heyday when Julia Margaret Cameron, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and their dazzling circle of friends lived and worked at Freshwater Bay. I am very much looking forward to my association with this exciting independent publisher.’

Publishing industry reported on this story here:

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The Publishing Post (Issue 68) and on their website about ‘Latest Acquisitions & Adaptations’