W&N acquires pioneering new view of global history in seven-publisher auction

Caroline Dodds PennockW&N has won a seven-publisher auction to acquire ON SAVAGE SHORES, the untold story of the Native Americans who discovered Europe, by Caroline Dodds Pennock, the UK’s only Aztec historian. Editorial Director Maddy Price bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit.

The story of the sixteenth century is one of movement and meetings, of iconic explorers crossing great oceans and setting foot on strange shores, sowing the seeds of our modern global world. When we imagine this period, we picture Columbus ‘discovering’ America, but – as Caroline Dodds Pennock will show – Native Americans ‘discovered’ Europe at almost the same moment. Tens of thousands of Native Americans crossed the Atlantic, but their experiences have been written out of popular understandings of the past: from the Brazilian king who met Henry VIII, to the Inuit who harpooned ducks on the Avon; from the Aztecs who mocked up human sacrifice at the court of Charles V, to the Inuk baby who was put on show in a London pub; from the Maya nobles who made chocolate for the Spanish king, to the thousands of Mesoamerican and Caribbean slaves who laboured in European households. They forged the course of European history, just as surely as Europe shaped America. For such indigenous travellers and discoverers, of course, Europe was the savage shore.

Maddy Price said: ‘Caroline’s book challenges the way we always see history from the white European perspective. By telling the stories of the unknown explorers, kings, traders, prisoners, slaves and other men, women and children who came to Europe from ‘the new world’, Caroline reframes global history in a new, much-needed light. ON SAVAGE SHORES is fascinating, thrilling and so important at a time when the need to understand how migration has shaped us is more urgent than ever.’

Caroline Dodds Pennock said: ‘It is astonishing that the thousands of Native American travellers to Europe have made so little impact on public understandings of this otherwise well-known period of history. Their experiences overturn preconceptions about early modern exploration, empire and slavery, transforming our understandings of a period when people tend to think only about adventurers and colonists travelling west. I am thrilled to be working with Weidenfeld & Nicolson to bring their stories to a wider audience and to start conversations about the roots of our global, cosmopolitan world.’

Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock is Senior Lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield and is the UK’s only Aztec historian. Her study of Aztec culture, BONDS OF BLOOD, won the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize for humanising a society which is often seen solely through the bloody lens of human sacrifice.

W&N will publish in hardback in 2022. North American rights at auction to Erroll McDonald at Pantheon.