Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway megahit Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton is having something of a pop culture renaissance, and authors like Elizabeth Cobbs are reaping the benefits. The renewed interest in the Founding Father has helped p Cobbs' forthcoming novel The Hamilton Affair (Skyhorse, August) find some unlikely champions in chains like Barnes & Noble and Costco.
Cobbs, a history professor at Texas A&M University who has written two previous works of fiction and two of nonfiction, blends history and romance in The Hamilton Affair. Part copiously-researched history and part torrid romance, the follows the relationship between Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler, as well as his much-publicized affair with Maria Reynolds.
When February Media publicist Gretchen Crary, who represents Cobbs, found out the subject matter of the book, she felt its success was pretty much fated.
“Are you kidding me? A Hamilton historical novel with a romance?” Crary said. “This is going to be humongous.”
In spite of this, the book’s route to publication was circuitous. Literary agent Jim Donovan, who has an eponymous shingle, sold the manuscript to Skyhorse for $3,000 in the spring of 2015. Originally set to be released last September, the book is now coming out on August 2. In the build-up, there was much haggling over a cover that could adequately convey the novel as a work of historical fiction and a bodice-ripper.
“Professor Cobbs is a crack researcher,” Crary said, noting that Cobbs’s expertise on Hamilton is on full display in a lecture she gave on CSPAN. “She knows everything you can know about Eliza Schuyler and this whole saga.”
The current publication date is partly due to bookseller interest. Barnes & Noble took notice of the book early on, buying 5,000 copies and requested the new publication date. Cobbs then paid her own way to BEA to drum up press. Soon after, Costco bought 10,000 copies. Skyhorse plans a first printing of 40,000 copies.
“It’s kind of already blowing up,” Crary said. “It’s a very steamy, but smart and juicy, story.”
CORRECTION: This article has been edited for clarity.