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Short course alumna's debut among most anticipated books of 2018

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is the debut novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar

by Emily Pedder

The debut novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar, a former City short course student, has become one of the most hotly anticipated books of 2018 and listed among the year's must-read new releases by a host of publications including Vogue, the Observer, The TimesDaily Express, BBC, Red magazine and Stylist.

The novel, titled The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, sparked a bidding war with ten publishers, a war finally won by Harvill Secker for a six figure sum. Liz Foley, publishing director at Harvill Secker, has said she “fell head over heels for Imogen’s writing".

Imogen was inspired with the idea for the novel while working at the British Museum as a Gallery Assistant. In the evenings she attended creative writing classes at City, taking Novel Writing and Longer Works and then Writers’ Workshop, both taught by Katy Darby.

She went on to develop the novel while studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, for which she received a distinction and won the Curtis Brown award for her year.

The Times called The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock "2018's most hyped book", while the Observer listed Imogen as one of the "new faces of fiction for 2018". Red magazine included the book in its round-up of the best books of 2018.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was published in January and has been chosen as Harvill Secker’s lead debut fiction title for 2018.

Imogen is one of many authors to publish books after completing one of City's creative writing short courses. Harriet Tyce recently secured a book deal for her debut novel Blood Orange after completing the one-year course, The Novel Studio.

Watch our writing community video to hear more from Imogen

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