In the celebrated “Wolf Hall” trilogy of historical books, Hilary Mantel, the Booker Prize-winning author who transformed Tudor power politics into gripping fiction, has passed away, according to her publisher. She was 70.
In the presence of her closest family and friends on Thursday, Mantel passed away “suddenly yet calmly,” according to HarperCollins, her publisher.
With Wolf Hall and its two sequels, Mantel is credited with revitalizing historical fiction. Thomas Cromwell was King Henry VIII’s right-hand man in the 16th century and an English powerbroker.
Mantel is “one of the greatest English authors of this century,” according to the publisher.
“Her well-known compositions are regarded as contemporary masterpieces. Her absence will be felt deeply “In a statement, it was noted.
Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its follow-up, Bring Up the Bodies, published in 2012, both earned Mantel the coveted Booker Prize twice. For both the stage and television, adaptations were made.
The Mirror and the Light, the third and final book in the trilogy, was released in 2020.
Her death was “devastating,” according to Mantel’s longtime editor Nicholas Pearson.
Only a month prior, he sat with her in Devon on a lovely afternoon while she talked animatedly about the new novel she was working on. “It is intolerable that we won’t get to enjoy her words any longer. We do, however, possess a body of work that will be studied for ages.”
Mantel was the critically acclaimed but modestly successful author of books before Wolf Hall, including A Place of Greater Safety, which dealt with the French Revolution, and The Life of a Psychic Medium (Beyond Black).
Giving Up the Ghost, a memoir she also penned, detailed her years of illness, including untreated endometriosis that rendered her infertile.
She once claimed that although her years of illness destroyed her dream of becoming a lawyer, they helped her become a writer.
Bill Hamilton, Mantel’s literary agent, claimed that the author had faced “stoically” ongoing medical issues.
We will miss her greatly, but she leaves behind an exceptional legacy as a blazing light for authors and readers, he added.
Mantel, who was born in Derbyshire in central England in 1952, first attended a convent school before pursuing academic studies at Sheffield University and the London School of Economics. Her first two books, Every Day Is Mother’s Day (1985) and Vacant Possession (1986), draw on her experience as a social worker at a hospital for elderly patients.
She and her geologist husband Gerald McEwen resided in Saudi Arabia and Botswana in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mantel had almost 25 years of experience as a published novelist before her debut book about Cromwell catapulted her to literary fame. She transformed the mysterious Tudor political fixer into a complicated, intriguing literary hero who was alternately wise and violent.
Cromwell, a self-made man who rose from obscurity to power, was an architect of the Reformation who assisted King Henry VIII in realizing his desire to wed Anne Boleyn and divorce Catherine of Aragon, and later to get rid of Boleyn so he could wed Jane Seymour, the third of Henry’s six wives. Cromwell was a self-made man who rose from obscurity to power.
Henry rejected the pope’s authority and installed himself as head of the Church of England as a result of the Vatican’s rejection to declare his first marriage null and void.
It was during this dramatic period that England underwent its transformation from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant nation, from a medieval kingdom to an emerging modern state. A Man for All Seasons and The Tudors are just two of the books, movies, and television shows that were inspired by this period.
But Mantel was able to add excitement and suspense to the well-known tale.
She told The Associated Press in 2009, “I’m really focused on the idea that a historical fiction should be written pointing ahead.” “Keep in mind that the people you are following were unaware of how their own stories would conclude. They were therefore making progress day by day, being pushed and pulled around by their environment, doing the best they could, but ultimately wandering in the dark.”
Mantel also cast a critical eye on contemporary British royalty. The British tabloid press was outraged by her 2013 speech in which she compared the former Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, to a “shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own.”
Mantel claimed that she wasn’t speaking about the duchess directly, but rather was addressing how the media and the general public had portrayed Kate. Nevertheless, David Cameron, who was prime minister at the time, and others criticised the author.
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, a short novella that envisioned an assault on the Conservative leader, was similarly criticized by right-wing observers. In 2014, the year Queen Elizabeth II appointed Mantel a dame—the female equivalent of a knight—it was released.
Mantel remained an outspoken political figure. She opposed Brexit and stated in 2021 that she wanted to become “a European again” by obtaining Irish citizenship.
Mantel’s husband is still alive.