Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel has died aged 70

Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize-winning author of the acclaimed book Hall of the Wolf saga of historical novels, is dead. He was 70.

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

Mantel is credited with reviving historical fiction Hall of the Wolf and two sequels about the 16th-century English power broker 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. He will be greatly missed,” the statement said.

LISTEN l Hilary Mantel in conversation with CBC Writers & Company:

Writers and Company58:47Hilary Mantel concludes her blockbuster Tudor trilogy with The Mirror & the Light

The two-time Booker Prize winner talks to Eleanor Wachtel about finishing Thomas Cromwell’s chronicle at the court of King Henry VIII.

Mantel won the Booker Prize twice Hall of the Wolf in 2009 and its sequel Bring the bodies up in 2012. The last installment, Mirror and lightwas released in 2020.

Good luck Hall of the Wolf elevated Mantel from a critically acclaimed but modestly selling novelist to a literary superstar. Before that, he had written works that included A place of greater securitywhich took place during the French Revolution and Apart from blackof the life of a psychic medium.

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

Mantel transformed Cromwell, a shadowy political fixer, into a compelling and complex literary hero. Cromwell was the architect of the Reformation, helping the king realize 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 papal authority and establish himself as head of the Church of England.

“wipe the slate clean”

It is a period of history that has inspired many books, movies and TV series A man for every season to The Tudors. But Mantel managed to make a well-known story new and exciting.

“The first thing I did then was to reach back into the historical records – to try to forget what I had read in the biographies – and I began to access a very different story,” he. told CBC Radio in 2020. “I saw how historians have passed from generation to generation not only prejudices, but also errors.

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

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

The disease affected marriage, career

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

“Only last month I sat with him on a sunny afternoon in Devon as he talked excitedly about the new novel he was working on,” she said. “That we can no longer enjoy his words is unbearable. We have a work that will be read for generations.”

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

The couple divorced, Mantel separated, citing her illness and infertility caused by its treatment, but later remarried.

He later wrote a memoir Giving up Ghost (2003), which described years of poor health, including undiagnosed endometriosis. He once said that the years of illness crushed his dream of becoming a lawyer but made him a writer.

His first novel, Every day is mother’s daywas published in 1985. In total, he has written 17 books, including non-fiction works.

Politically straightforward

Mantel could be politically straightforward. A lecture in 2013 in which he described the former Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, as “a shop window mannequin with no personality” drew the ire of the British tabloid press.

Mantel said she was not talking about the Duchess herself, but rather was describing the view of Kate created by the press and public opinion. Nevertheless, the author was criticized by the then Prime Minister David Cameron, among others.

Right-wing commentators also took issue with the short story’s title The assassination of Margaret Thatcher, which featured an attack on the Conservative leader. It was published in 2014, the same year Queen Elizabeth II made Mantel a lady, the female equivalent of a knight.

The Brexiteer said in 2021 that he hopes to become an Irish citizen and “become European again”.

Mantel is survived by her husband.