Revelatory book on nursing from Costa Award Winner, in major acquisition for Chatto & Windus


"If how we treat our most vulnerable is a measure of our society, then the act of nursing itself is a measure of our humanity. Yet it is the most undervalued of all the professions."

Christie Watson, The Language of Kindness

In a hotly contested auction involving 14 publishers, Juliet Brooke, Senior Editor at Chatto & Windus, an imprint of Vintage, has acquired UK & Commonwealth and audio rights to The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson from Sophie Lambert at Conville & Walsh. 

The Language of Kindness has also been the subject of an international bidding frenzy, with US rights bought by Tim Duggan Books at Crown (Random House US), and translation rights have sold in Germany (Goldmanns, in a six-figure deal), Spain (Penguin Random House), Sweden (Bonniers), Italy (Mondadori), Poland (Marginesy), Brazil (Intrínseca), and The Netherlands (HarperCollins Holland). The Language of Kindness is under offer in Denmark, Portugal, France and for translation into Catalan. An auction is currently underway in Norway.

Christie Watson is a Costa Award-winning novelist who was a nurse for twenty years. The Language of Kindness offers up a rich, heartrending and often shocking glimpse of a world that will touch all of our lives.

Christie will throw open the doors of the hospital – from its wards to staff rooms – and spill its secrets. As we do the rounds with nurses, we meet those at the most significant and extreme moments of life, witnessing both extraordinary miracles and when the system fails. From the Children’s Intensive Care Unit to A&E, across the oncology and the geriatric wards, behind the doors of the pharmacy and the mortuary, we see how nurses provide dignity, care and kindness to those in their most vulnerable moments. The Language of Kindness gives us a no-holds-barred look at a profession under enormous strain and one that can teach us what it is to be human. 

In her nursing career Christie has worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and St Mary’s Hospitals. She won the Malcolm Bradbury Bursary to take the MA in Creative Writing at UEA. Her first novel, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, won the Costa First Novel Award in 2011 and her second novel, Where Women Are Kings, was published to widespread critical acclaim.

Christie Watson says: ‘I am delighted to be working with Chatto. It is a great privilege to represent nursing, women, and kindness and I’m overwhelmed by the global response to my ideas. I hope that this small book about nursing will be the start of a big conversation around the world about the importance of kindness and love, and remind us of the only things that matter, in the end. We need that dialogue now more than ever.’

Juliet Brooke says: ‘I am delighted to welcome Christie Watson to Chatto and to Vintage. In The Language of Kindness she takes us into the world of the nurse, from moments of trauma and high drama, to the many long hours she spent observing her first operation. It is both an insight into the NHS and a book about our most extraordinary and desperate moments. Christie demonstrates with eloquence, unflinching honesty and an astonishing gift for storytelling, how the practice of nursing can teach us lessons for real life in small, everyday ways. In a world that is splintering, where messages of hate are becoming increasingly commonplace, The Language of Kindness is a much needed call for compassion.

Author photograph © Peter Clark


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