Obituary Note: Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel, author of the Wolf Hall trilogy and twice the winner of the Booker Prize, died yesterday at age 70 of a stroke, according to the New York Times.

She won the Booker for the first two books in the trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Bring Up the Bodies also won the Costa Award. The third book in the trilogy, The Mirror & the Light, was published in 2020, was longlisted for the Booker and won the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. Her many other titles included Learning to Talk: Stories, Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir, A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, Fludd, An Experiment in Love and The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories.

Quoted in the Bookseller, HarperCollins CEO Charlie Redmayne said: "This is terrible, tragic news and we are filled with sorrow for Hilary's family and friends, especially her devoted husband, Gerald. We are so proud that Fourth Estate and HarperCollins were Hilary's publisher, and for such a peerless body of work. A writer to the core, Hilary was one of the greatest of her generation--a serious, fearless novelist with huge empathy for her subjects. Who else could have brought Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII and the huge cast of the Wolf Hall Trilogy to life with such insight, frailty and humanity but her? We will all miss Hilary's company, her wisdom, her humour, and treasure her incredible literary legacy--she will be read as long as people are still reading."

Mantel's longtime editor Nicholas Pearson, former publishing director of Fourth Estate, said, "The news of Hilary’s death is devastating to her friends and everyone who worked with her. Hilary had a unique outlook on the world--she picked it apart and revealed how it works in both her contemporary and historical novels--every book an unforgettable weave of luminous sentences, unforgettable characters and remarkable insight. She seemed to know everything. For a long time she was critically admired, but the Wolf Hall Trilogy found her the vast readership she long deserved. Read her late books, but read her early books too, which are similarly daring and take the reader to strange places.

"As a person Hilary was kind and generous and loving, always a great champion of other writers. She was a joy to work with. Only last month I sat with her on a sunny afternoon in Devon, while she talked excitedly about the new novel she had embarked on. That we won't have the pleasure of any more of her words is unbearable. What we do have is a body of work that will be read for generations. We must be grateful for that. I will miss her and my thoughts are with her husband, Gerald."

Bill Hamilton, Mantel's agent, said: "I first met Hilary in 1984 after she sent in the manuscript of Every Day Is Mother's Day. It has been the greatest privilege to work with her through the whole of her career, and to see all the elements that made her unique come together spectacularly in the Wolf Hall Trilogy. Her wit, stylistic daring, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight mark her out as one of the greatest novelists of our time. She will be remembered for her enormous generosity to other budding writers, her capacity to electrify a live audience, and the huge array of her journalism and criticism, producing some of the finest commentary on issues and books.

"E-mails from Hilary were sprinkled with bon mots and jokes as she observed the world with relish and pounced on the lazy or absurd and nailed cruelty and prejudice. There was always a slight aura of otherworldliness about her, as she saw and felt things us ordinary mortals missed, but when she perceived the need for confrontation she would fearlessly go into battle. And all of that against the backdrop of chronic health problems, which she dealt with so stoically. We will miss her immeasurably, but as a shining light for writers and readers she leaves an extraordinary legacy. Our thoughts go out to her beloved husband, Gerald, family and friends."

More remembrances in Monday's issue.

Powered by: Xtenit