‘Wolf Hall’ author Hilary Mantel dies at 70

LONDON - FEBRUARY 6: Dame Hilary Mantel holds her Dame Commander of the British Empire medal presented to her by the Prince of Wales for services to literature at an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on February 6, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Philip Toscano - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

By Jill Lawless | Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — 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, her publisher said Friday. She was 70.

Mantel died “suddenly yet peacefully” on Thursday surrounded by close family and friends after suffering a stroke, publisher HarperCollins said.

Mantel is credited with reenergizing historical fiction with “Wolf Hall” and two sequels about the 16th-century English powerbroker Thomas Cromwell, right-hand man to King Henry VIII — and in Mantel’s hands, the charismatic antihero of a bloody, high-stakes political drama.

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

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

Author J.K. Rowling tweeted: “We’ve lost a genius.” Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it is “impossible to overstate the significance of the literary legacy Hilary Mantel leaves behind.”

Mantel won the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction twice, for “Wolf Hall” in 2009 and its sequel “Bring Up the Bodies” in 2012. Both were adapted for the stage and television.

The trilogy’s final instalment, “The Mirror and the Light,” was published in 2020.

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

“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,” he said. “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.”

Born in Derbyshire in central England in 1952, Mantel attended a convent school, then studied at the London School of Economics and Sheffield University. She worked as a social worker at a geriatric hospital, an experience she drew on for her first two novels, “Every Day Is Mother’s Day,” published in 1985, and “Vacant Possession,” which followed the next year.

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In the 1970s and 1980s she lived in Botswana and Saudi Arabia with her husband, Gerald McEwen, a geologist. She drew on her time in Saudi Arabia for the 1988 novel “Eight Months on Ghazzah Street.”

Mantel had been a published novelist for almost 25 years when her first book about Cromwell made her a literary superstar. Before “Wolf Hall,” she was the critically acclaimed but modestly selling author of novels on subjects ranging from the French Revolution (“A Place of Greater Safety”) to the life of a psychic medium (“Beyond Black”).

Mantel holds her Dame Commander of the British Empire medal presented to her at an Investiture ceremony in London in 2015. (Philip Toscano – WPA Pool/Getty Images Archives)

“For most of my career I wrote about odd and marginal people,” Mantel said in 2017. “They were psychic. Or religious. Or institutionalized. Or social workers. Or French. My readers were a small and select band, until I decided to march on to the middle ground of English history and plant a flag.”

Mantel turned Cromwell, a shadowy Tudor political fixer, into a compelling, complex literary …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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