Weidenfeld & Nicolson is to publish a memoir by critic and publisher Catherine Taylor, after securing The Stirrings at auction.

Lettice Franklin, editorial director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Eleanor Birne at PEW Literary.


Described as “impressionistic, irreverent and deeply personal”, Taylor’s memoir explores growing up in northern England in the 1970s and 80s, and is set against the backdrop of Sheffield as a post-industrial city, touching on the serial killer who stalked Yorkshire throughout her childhood, the miners’ strike, the threat of nuclear war and Taylor’s growing interest in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common.


The synopsis explains: “It is also a story about a body — and bodily perception — altering forever through illness, burgeoning sexuality and emotional incarceration, and how violence — however remote – can forever shape the imagination and the psyche, and also how a child can survive psychological trauma and become the person they were meant to be.”


Franklin said: “I read Catherine’s proposal in a heady rush. She is a born storyteller and a writer of dazzling prose. InThe Stirrings, Catherine writes with deep emotional power, truth and beauty about the thrills and terrors of youth, about growing up, going out, falling in love, the realisation of the perils of womanhood and about the north of England in the 1970s and 80s. I found myself thinking back to forgotten memories of my own youth in a different place and time and I feel confident this book will speak to many readers – particularly those that loved Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self or Sinead Gleeson’s Constellations.”


Taylor has worked in the book industry since 1992, for the British Library, Microsoft Encarta, Amazon, The Folio Society and most recently as the deputy director of literature and freedom of expression at charity English PEN. As a freelance, she was commissioning editor for Picador Classics, and she has managed PR for independent publishers such as Charco Press and And Other Stories. She is also book critic and features writer for Guardian Review (fiction columnist 2007–2013), New Statesman, FT Life & Arts, The Economist, Times Literary Supplement, Irish Times, Prospect and the i. She co-runs Brixton Review of Books, a non-profit literary quarterly, and is editor of The Book of Sheffield: A City in Short Fiction (Comma Press, 2019), chosen as the Big City Read 2020 by Sheffield Libraries.


Commenting on the deal, Taylor said: “I couldn’t be happier that The Stirrings has found a home with W&N, and am very excited to be working with Lettice and the team. My book is an impression of a time and a place which seem largely forgotten even though it is recent history, and aspects of which — the legitimacy of protest, violence against women and the nuclear arms race — are as pertinent today as they were when I was growing up in the in the 1970s and 80s. I’m also excited to be writing The Stirrings at a time when the possibilities of memoir and essay-writing seem boundless.”


The Stirrings will be published in hardback, eBook and audiobook in Spring 2023.