Hilary Mantel, author of the ‘Wolf Hall’ saga, dies at 70


Hilary Mantel, the Booker Prize-winning author who turned Tudor power politics into page-turning fiction in the acclaimed ‘Wolf Hall’ trilogy of historical novels, has died. 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 “Wolf Hall” and two sequels about 16th-century English powerbroker Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII’s right-hand man.

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

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

Mantel has won the Booker Prize twice, for ‘Wolf Hall’ in 2009 and its sequel ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ in 2012. Both have been adapted for stage and TV.

The last installment, “The mirror and the light”, was published in 2020.

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

Dame Hilary Mantel holds her Dame Commander of the British Empire medal presented to her by the Prince of Wales for services to literature during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on February 6, 2015 in London, England England.
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“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 body of work that will be read for generations.

Prior to “Wolf Hall”, Mantel was the critically acclaimed but modestly sold author of novels on topics ranging from the French Revolution (“A Place of Greater Safety”) to the life of a psychic (“Beyond Black”) .

She also wrote a memoir, “Giving Up the Ghost,” which chronicles years of poor health, including undiagnosed endometriosis that left her infertile.

She once said that years of illness shattered her dream of becoming a lawyer, but made her a writer.

Mantel has won the Booker Prize twice, for
Mantel has won the Booker Prize twice, for ‘Wolf Hall’ in 2009 and its sequel ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ in 2012. Both have been adapted for stage and TV.
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Mantel’s book on Cromwell turned her into a literary superstar. She transformed the shadowy political fixer of the Tudors into a compelling and complex literary hero, by turns thoughtful and rogue.

An autodidact who rose from poverty to power, Cromwell was a Reformation architect who helped King Henry VIII achieve his desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn – and later, get rid of of Boleyn so he could marry Jane. Seymour, the third of Henry’s six wives.

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.

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

This dramatic period saw England transform from a Roman Catholic nation to a Protestant nation, from a medieval kingdom to an emerging modern state, and it inspired countless books, films and television series, from “A Man for All Seasons” to “The Tudors”.

But Mantel managed to make the well-known story thrilling and full of suspense.

“I’m very excited that a historical novel should be written forward,” she told The Associated Press in 2009. not the end of their own story. So they moved on day by day, pushed and pushed around by circumstances, doing the best they could, but walking in the dark, essentially.

Queen Elizabeth II made Mantel a lady, the female equivalent of a knight, in 2014.

Mantel is survived by her husband. Gerald McEwen.


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