And breathe… reassuring reads in turbulent times

Reassuring reads

And breathe… reassuring reads in turbulent times


Lockdown 2.0. American elections. Climate emergencies. It’s all a bit overwhelming.

We therefore invite you to take a breath, grab a cuppa, and try and savour the simple pleasures: reconnecting with friends, admiring nature, or doing nothing at all.


The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang The Importance of Living

Intended as an antidote to the dizzying pace of the modern world, Lin Yutang’s prescription is the classic distillation of ancient Chinese wisdom: revere inaction as much as action and invoke humour to maintain a healthy attitude.

With our lives accelerated to unbelievable levels (particularly so in 2020!), this wise and timeless book is more pertinent than ever before.

Quote from The Importance of Living:

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

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A Wood of One's OwnA Wood of One’s Own by Ruth Pavey

A Wood of One’s Own is the story of how Ruth Pavey grew to understand and then shape four acres of derelict Somerset land into an enduring legacy.

Accompanied throughout by the author’s evocative hand-drawn illustrations, it is a potent reminder of nature’s delicate balance, and its comforting and abiding presence.

Quote from A Wood of One’s Own:

“There is something very buoyant about the company of trees, plants, animals, birds, insects all intent upon their own lives.”

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The Friendship Cure by Kate LeaverThe Friendship Cure

How can we live in the most interconnected age and still find ourselves stuck in the greatest loneliness epidemic of our time? It’s killing us, making us miserable and causing a public health crisis. What if meaningful friendships are the solution, not a distraction…

In The Friendship Cure, Kate Leaver’s much anticipated manifesto brings to light what modern friendship means, how it can survive, why we need it and what we can do to get the most from it.

Quote from The Friendship Cure:

“We need to relearn the art of friendship because we need each other more than ever.”

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J.J. Connolly reading from Layer Cake (20th Anniversary Edition)

J.J. Connolly reading from Layer Cake (20th Anniversary Edition)


‘Welcome to the Layer Cake, son’


The 20th Anniversary editions of Layer Cake and Viva La Madness are out now.

Special edition signed copies are available from No Alibis bookshop. Available also at all good bookshops:


Listen to author J.J. Connolly read an excerpt from his famous crime bestseller:


Duckworth’s Summer Reads

Duckworth’s Summer Reads


Hello all! Back in April, we talked about what our team would be reading during lockdown. Four (long) months later, we are going to have another quack at it.

Fanny (marketing and publicity guru): Summer reading for me usually means delving into great fiction. I’m reading:

  • Hot Milk by Deborah Levy – my first Levy and really enjoying it so far. It’s set on the Spanish seaside and though it’s all about a tricky mother-daughter relationship, the setting definitely brings the right summer-y vibes.
  • Finally carving out time to read Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other – better late than never! Obviously a hugely important book this year and everyone that I know who’s read it had only the best things to say, so really looking forward to giving it a read.

Matt (of-all-trades): Manuscripts!

But I am meant to read the Sunday Times bestseller Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race for my book club end of next week so better get started. I’ll be writing a review of the book for Ninja Book Box, which specialises in promoting indie press books.

Pete (le chef): I have just started on Jessica Kane’s Rules for Visiting, to read by the river.

A quiet, thoughtful start, but I have a feeling this is going to build into one of those novels of quiet genius.

Rob (intern-galactic): I have also had a book club to prepare for. The book of discussion is Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. I’m really enjoying the book. It is raw, full of emotion, yet so graceful in its lyricism.

Still waiting for my brief moment.


Let us know what you’re reading on Twitter using our handle @duckbooks and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook @DuckworthPublishers.


Joe Minihane talks ‘Floating’ with the BBC

Joe Minihane talks ‘Floating’ with the BBC


Author Joe Minihane speaks to Mollie Davidson of BBC Coventry & Warwickshire Radio about outdoor swimming, his book Floating, and the importance of lidos.



Signed copies of Floating: A return to Waterlog are available to purchase from Kenilworth Books now.

A remarkable woman: Frances Hodgson Burnett

A remarkable woman: Frances Hodgson Burnett


Frances Hodgson Burnett was a remarkable woman.

Born in Cheetham Hill, Manchester in 1849, over 170 years ago, she transgressed all the rules for a woman of her time. She was twice married and twice divorced.

At 14 Frances found herself in Tennessee, just after the end of the Civil War, needing to help support her family. At 22, already getting her stories accepted, she refused to marry and travelled alone to England, the second of the 33 times she crossed the Atlantic.

In 1875, finally married and with a small child, with her writing she supported her husband’s studies in Paris. Here, Frances’ second son was born.

Her first novel (for adults) set in Lancashire, was widely praised. One American critic wrote:

‘We know of no more powerful work from a woman’s hand, not even excepting the best of George Eliot.’

Much later, after the publication of Little Lord Fauntleroy, Frances lunched with William Gladstone, the British Prime Minister in Italy. He suggested that her bestseller would help Britain and America ‘to understand each other’

Frances was a celebrity, recognised wherever she went. She was the highest paid writer (of either sex) in all America.

In 1888, to thank her for her efforts to protect copyright, she was presented with a magnificent diamond bracelet inscribed

‘To Frances Hodgson Burnett, with the gratitude of British Authors.’

Her life was as extraordinary as any of her thirty novels. It seems strange that most people know nothing about her beyond the fact that she wrote three famous books for children: Little 
Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess and, most loved of all, The Secret Garden.


Anne Thwaite’s biography of Frances Hodgson Burnett, Beyond the Secret Garden, will be published 6 August 2020. Available to pre-order now.

You can test your knowledge of Frances, and be in with the chance of winning some great prizes, by entering our ‘Beyond the Secret Garden Quiz’.



Beyond the Secret Garden Quiz

Beyond the Secret Garden Quiz


To celebrate the launch of Ann Thwaite’s eye-opening biography of famed children’s author Frances Hodgson Burnett, we invite you to take part in Duckworth’s Beyond the Secret Garden Quiz.

There are eight prizes, all of which are vintage books written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and from Ann Thwaite’s own collection. Each book carries her ownership signature.

The book will be published on 6th August 2020 ahead of the global release of the new film, The Secret Garden, starring Julie Walters and Colin Firth.

All the answers to the quiz can be found in the pages of the book, so be sure to pre-order your copy now.



Fitzsimons wins Rubery Book Award

Fitzsimons wins Rubery Book Award


We are thrilled to announce that Eleanor Fitzsimons’ masterful biography, The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit has won the 2020 Rubery Book Award for the non-fiction category.

The Rubery Prize is a prestigious international book award seeking the best books by indie writers, self published authors and books published by independent presses.

Here’s what they had to say about Fitzsimons’ Sunday Times Best Book of the Year:

“This is a well-written biography, beautifully put together, and something of a revelation, both in terms of Nesbit’s astonishing creative energy, and pleasing eccentricity.”

“All in all, the depth and breadth of Fitzsimons’ research is very apparent and it’s a well-researched, eminently readable biography of an impressive woman.”

Congratulations to Eleanor!

Celebrate with Eleanor by pre-ordering the highly anticipated paperback release of The Life and Loves of E. NesbitPublished 15th October 2020.

In Conversation with Debra Barnes

In Conversation with Debra Barnes


Join us Wednesday 12th August at 7pm on Zoom for a conversation with Debra Barnes about her upcoming book The Young Survivors (published 23rd July 2020), hosted by Books on the Hill bookshop, St Albans.

Debra will be joined by Antonia Mason (Books on the Hill) and Matt Casbourne (Duckworth Books) to discuss the writing process, her inspiration for the book and much more.

For this event, Books on the Hill will have exclusive signed copies which will be gift wrapped in their striking green tissue paper.

Tickets are FREE. You can register now.

Signed copies of The Young Survivors can be pre-ordered online from Books on the Hill here.

You can also order in-store or over the phone on 01727 807248.


Floating: Signed Bookplate Copies

Floating: Signed Bookplate Copies


We have teamed up with independent bookshop Kenilworth Books to bring you special, signed bookplate copies of Floating: A Return to Waterlog.

Author Joe Minihane became obsessed with outdoor swimming and the way it soothed his anxiety, developing a new-found passion by following the example of naturalist Roger Deakin in his own swimming memoir, Waterlog.

In his own book, Joe retraces Deakin’s steps, setting on an ambitious journey through the wild and unsettled waters of the UK – and his own mind.

Ten years on from the start of his adventures, Floating reminds us that reconnecting with nature can help our mental wellbeing, especially at a testing time with the COVID-19 pandemic.


You can buy signed bookplate copies of Floating from Kenilworth Books here.


There’s more! Hear Joe read his favourite excerpt from Floating:

Online Event: The Young Survivors

Online Event: The Young Survivors


We’re thrilled to announce an exciting online event for our upcoming historical novel The Young Survivors by Debra Barnes, publishing on 23 July 2020.

Join us for a virtual book talk celebrating the publication of The Young Survivors, a historical novel inspired by the survival of the author’s mother during the Holocaust in France. Debra Barnes will be discussing her extensive research into her family’s history and her writing process.

The online book talk is hosted by The Wiener Holocaust Library and Debra will be in conversation with The Wiener Holocaust Library’s Director, Dr Toby Simpson.


Join us on Wednesday 29 July, 7-8pm BST. Register here for a free ticket.