Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel dies at 70

Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize-winning author of the famous hall of wolves saga of historical novels, is dead. She was 70 years old.

Mantel died “suddenly but peacefully” surrounded by close family and friends, publisher HarperCollins said Friday.

Mantel is credited with reinvigorating historical fiction with hall of wolves and two sequels about the powerful 16th-century English courtier Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII’s right-hand man.

The publisher said Mantel was “one of the greatest English novelists of this century”.

“Her beloved works are considered modern classics. She will be sorely missed,” he said in a statement.

LISTEN to Hilary Mantel in conversation with CBC’s Writers & Company:

Writers and Company58:47Hilary Mantel wraps up her hit Tudor trilogy with The Mirror & the Light

The two-time Booker Prize winner speaks to Eleanor Wachtel about the conclusion of her chronicle of Thomas Cromwell at the court of King Henry VIII.

Mantel has won the Booker Prize twice, for hall of wolves in 2009 and its sequel Bring up the bodies in 2012. The last installment, The mirror and the lightwas released in 2020.

The success of hall of wolves propelled Mantel from a critically acclaimed but modestly sold novelist to a literary superstar. Prior to this, she had written works which included A safer placeput during the French Revolution, and beyond the darkon the life of a medium.

“I’m always aware of untold stories,” she told CBC. Writers and Company in 2012. “Historical fiction is in many ways a project of recuperation, rediscovery, sometimes rehabilitation.”

Mantel transformed Cromwell from a shadowy political fixer into a compelling and complex literary hero. Cromwell was a Reformation architect who helped the king achieve his desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. The Vatican’s refusal to annul Henry’s first marriage led the monarch to reject the authority of the pope and install himself as head of the Church of England.

“Erase the Slate”

It is a period of history that has inspired many books, films and television series, from A man for all seasons at The Tudors. But Mantel managed to make the well-known story new and exciting.

“The first thing I did then was go back to the historical record – to try to forget what I had read in the biographies – and I started accessing a very different story,” he said. she declared. told CBC Radio in 2020. “I’ve seen how historians have passed not only prejudices but also errors, from one generation to the next.

“So I felt like I was wiping the slate clean and trying to see Cromwell like it was the first time.”

The first two novels in the trilogy were adapted for a BBC series broadcast in 2015 starring Mark Rylance as Cromwell, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Claire Foy as the King’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.

Illness affected marriage, career path

Nicholas Pearson, longtime editor of Mantel, said his death was “devastating”.

“Just last month, I sat with her on a sunny afternoon in Devon as she chatted enthusiastically about the new novel she had embarked on,” he said. “That we no longer have the pleasure of hearing his words is unbearable. What we have is a work that will be read for generations.”

Mantel studied law at the London School of Economics and the University of Sheffield and first worked as a social worker. She turned to writing fiction while living in Botswana for five years with her geologist husband Gerald McEwen.

The couple divorced, a separation Mantel attributed to her illness and the infertility caused by the treatment she received for it, but later remarried.

She will later write the memoirs Give up the ghost (2003), who chronicle years of poor health, including undiagnosed endometriosis. She once said that years of illness shattered her dream of becoming a lawyer, but made her a writer.

His first novel, Every day is mother’s daywas published in 1985. In total, she is the author of 17 books, including non-fiction works.

In 2014, she was awarded the title of Dame in Great Britain for services to literature.


Back to top button