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Egmont Publishing, who brought global bestsellers Lemony Snicket, Mr Gum and Amelia Fang to the market, have pre-empted a six-figure three-book deal for World (excluding US/Canada) translation rights, with Rachel Mann of Jo Unwin Literary Agency for a mischievously macabre and funny middle-grade debut by Jack Meggitt-Phillips.

The Beast and the Bethany is a natural successor to the genius of Dahl and Lemony Snicket with all the warmth of Despicable Me, finished off with a gleeful bite of Little Shop of Horrors.

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do.

So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan.

Jack_Meggitt_Phillips Credit David Myers

Jack Meggitt-Phillips. Photograph (C) David Myers

The series, acquired just yesterday, will be Egmont’s biggest new fiction title for Frankfurt Book Fair 2019 and will be driven by a far-reaching marketing and PR campaign with some wickedly big moments.

The first book will launch in Autumn 2020 in paperback with lavish cover finishes, illustrations throughout and a playfully gothic approach.

Such was the passion in the team that the series was jointly acquired by three of the senior commissioners: Lindsey Heaven (Editorial Director), Liz Bankes (Commissioning Editor) and Ali Dougal (Fiction Publishing Director).

Ali Dougal said, ‘We find that taking a collaborative approach to things pays off, never more so than in winning The Beast and the Bethany – a book that speaks to our love of the anarchic and unexpected – and bringing Jack, an exceptional new talent, to our list.

Unlike Ebeneezer Tweezer, Lindsey, Liz and I, and the whole of the wider Egmont team, are going to enjoy feeding the beast for a very long time.’

Jack Meggitt-Phillips said, ‘If it were not for Egmont and a certain Mr. Snicket, it’s likely that I would have never taken to reading, let alone writing.

The publisher has unparalleled success in turning children into readers, and the team’s vision for the book is as delightful and as gruesome as I could have possibly hoped. The Beast, The Bethany, and I are thrilled with our new home.’

About the Author

Jack Meggitt-Phillips is an incredibly exciting new talent. He is an author, scriptwriter and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4. He is scriptwriter and presenter of The History of Advertising podcast.

In his mind, Jack is an enormously talented ballroom dancer, however his enthusiasm far surpasses his actual talent.

Jack lives in north London where he spends most of his time drinking peculiar teas and reading PG Wodehouse novels.