UEA alumnus Elizabeth Macneal’s debut novel The Doll Factory will be published next year by Picador, it has been announced.

The historical novel, following the twisted tale of two characters who first meet at the 1850 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, was praised by Picador Senior Commissioning Editor Sophie Jonathan, who remarked that it “deserves to be a sensation.”

Picador secured the UK and Commonwealth rights to the novel, plus a follow-up, beating thirteen other bids. Ms Johnson continued: “The world Elizabeth draws is rich and evocative, beautiful and grotesque, and so clearly the product of a mind fascinated by form and colour. The Doll Factory is one of the most heart-stopping, gripping books I have ever read.”

The novel is already causing a stir, having won the £1,000 prize for the 2018 Caledonia Novel Award for self- and non-published works.

An Oxford graduate, Macneal completed UEA’s Creative Writing MA programme last year after being awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholarship. Edinburgh native Macneal also makes pottery from her London home.

She said: “While I started this novel relatively recently, I’ve been writing for over ten years, and I’ve poured so much of my love of writing into the character of Iris and her pursuit of painting.”

Macneal will be hoping to emulate the success of her fellow UEA MA Creative Writing graduate Emma Healy. In 2014, Healy’s Elizabeth Is Missing scooped a Costa Book Award for best debut novel.

Picador, an imprint of the Pan Macmillan publishing house, is best known for publishing rising stars alongside its established poetry arm, having acquired collections by Carol Ann Duffy and Kate Tempest.