The Emma Press

The Emma Press acquires a radical reworking of Arthurian myth from poet & novelist Clare Pollard, in her debut children’s fiction book

The Emma Press is delighted to announce acquisition of The Untameables, the debut children’s book from acclaimed poet, Clare Pollard. The Untameables was acquired by The Emma Press directly from the author in a deal for worldwide English-language rights (including physical, digital & audio rights).

The Untameables is a radical reworking of Arthurian myths, aimed at older Primary School Children (8-10). It draws on British folklore – Merlin, The Lady of the Lake, Tom Thumb, faeries and dragons – whilst also questioning the colonialist and brutal roots of the Arthurian legends. The novel reclaims the stories Clare loves, by retelling them from the perspective of those who work below-stairs – the gentle dog-boy, Roan, who hates violence, and his friend Elva – as they try to beat the Knights of the Round Table on their quest to find the Holy Grail that could save his mother’s life.

A book that will make young readers consider who actually gets to write the history books, this first foray into prose for children, with headstrong adventure, humour, and references to classic literature – from The Lady of Shallot to Gawain and the Green Knight – is sure to inspire the imagination.

Under the bloody rule of King Arthur – whilst the cruel Knights of the Round Table wage wars and hunt magical creatures – the people of Camelot are getting sick. Really sick. Something is the poisoning the Kingdom. So two children embark on a quest to find the Holy Grail that could save them all.

 Shy, gentle Roan, a young dog keeper who works for the Knights, is desperate to find a cure for his mum. He befriends Elva, a generous and outspoken kitchenhand who has her own reasons for seeking the illusive Grail. Together, can they beat the Knights to find it? And will drinking from it save Roan’s mum? 

Clare Pollard’s first book for children revisits Arthurian legends in a thrilling tale of adventure and mystery. The Untameables turns traditional folklore on its head and forces us to think about how legends are written and whose stories get told.

The Untameables will be published on 21 March 2024.

Clare says of The Untameables:

“Writing The Untameables was the most fun I’ve ever had with a laptop. I’ve always loved Arthurian myth – from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the legend of Holy Grail; Morgan le Fay to Questing Beasts – and wanted to subvert and reclaim these tales for contemporary children (including my own), starting from the premise that maybe the knights of the round table were the bad guys. From a cameo by the Lady of Shalott to medieval riddles to solve, this is a love-letter to our literary history, whilst – through the perspectives of Roan and Elva, children who work below-stairs at Camelot – it is also an attempt to look at it afresh. I’m so pleased to be with Emma Press for my first children’s novel, and to be part of their thoughtful, beautiful list.”

James Trevelyan, Director (maternity) of The Emma Press said:“Having been big fans of Clare’s work for adults across poetry, fiction and non-fiction, we are thrilled she has brought her first book for children to The Emma Press. The Untameables is a gripping adventure through British myth & legend looked at through the fresh perspective of two compelling and relatable child characters. We are incredibly excited for younger readers to get the chance to enjoy Clare’s writing and join Roan and Elva on their quest in April 2024.”

About the author:

Clare Pollard was born in Bolton in 1978 and currently lives in South London with her husband and two children.  

She has published five collections of poetry with Bloodaxe, most recently Incarnation (2017), and her poem ‘Pollen’ was nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2022. She has been involved in numerous poetry translation projects, including co-translating The Sea-Migrations by Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf (Bloodaxe, 2017) which received a PEN Translates award and was Sunday Times Poetry Book of the Year. She edited Modern Poetry in Translation for five years and is poetry editor for The Idler. 

As well as appearances on The VerbWoman’s Hour, Poetry Please and Newsnight Review, she has written and presented two documentaries for television and two for radio, most recently ‘Unlocking Anne’ (BBC Radio 3, 2023), about the poet Anne Lock. Clare wrote the non-fiction title Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children’s Picture Books (Penguin, 2019) and her latest book is the adult novel Delphi (Fig Tree, UK / Avid Reader, US, 2022).

For further information please contact: 

For further information, to speak to Clare, or request a review copy please contact Nina Douglas on, on twitter @ninadouglas or Instagram @ninacdouglas

About The Emma Press:

The Emma Press is an award-winning independent publishing house based in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. It was founded in 2012 by Emma Dai’an Wright and is dedicated to producing beautiful, thought-provoking books for adults and children, and to making poetry accessible to everyone. The Emma Press publishes themed anthologies, illustrated chapbooks and children’s poetry and fiction, with a growing list of translations which includes titles from Latvia, Estonia, Indonesia, Spain and the Netherlands. 

Kyaice is a publishing assistant at The Emma Press.
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