Hilary Mantel, British writer of “Wolf Hall”, “Bring Up the Bodies” and “The Mirror and the Light” trilogy inspired by the life of Thomas Cromwell, died Thursday in a hospital in Exeter, England. She was 70 years old.
Bill Hamilton, her longtime literary agent, confirmed her death of a stroke. “She had a lot of great novels ahead of her,” said Mr Hamilton, adding that Ms Mantell was working on one at the time of her death. “It’s a huge loss for literature,” he added.
Lady Mantell was one of Britain’s most illustrious novelists. She twice won the Booker Prize, the country’s most prestigious literary award, for the films Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, both of which have sold millions of copies. In 2020, she was also longlisted for the same award for “Mirror and Light”.
Parul Segal, former book critic for the New York Times wrote In the 2020 review of “Mirror and Light” Ms. Mantell’s writing envelops the reader “in the midst of a story rich in conquest, intrigue, and reckless human psychology.” Ms. Sehgal said Ms. Mantell was not just a writer of historical novels, but that she was an expert in showing “the power that reveals and hides in the human character”.
Lady Mantell was born Hilary Mary Thompson, and was raised in an Irish Catholic family in Hadfield, a village in Derbyshire, England. At the age of 18, she moved to London to study law at the London School of Economics, but could not afford to finish her training. After her marriage to geologist Gerald McEwen, she became a teacher and began writing on the side.
She finished her first novel,”A place for more safety”in the French Revolution, in 1979. And it was rejected by publishers—it was unknown, and the book, a historical novel, was over 700 pages long. But her second book, A contemporary novel published in 1985It was a huge success, and over the following decades developed a cult following.
However, Ms. Mantell did not achieve mainstream success until 2009, with “wolf hole‘, the first in her trilogy of books about Cromwell, a blacksmith’s son who ends up becoming one of Henry VIII’s most trusted lieutenants. That novel began with a shocking scene: a Cromwell teenager lying in a pool of his vomit, after being beaten by his father. Soon after, he decided Cromwell to make a different life for himself and embark on a path to power.
Janet Maslin, In a review for the New York Timeshe called “a curving, elegant, detail-rich autobiographical novel.”
“The main characters in her book are very well presented,” Maslin added. “And their sharp machinations are presented with constant vibrancy in a book that can compress a wealth of fortitude into very few well-chosen words.”
in 2020 interview with The New York TimesLady Mantell said she became fascinated by Cromwell after learning in high school about his role in the dissolution of British monasteries. However, when she read the novels about him, she saw that he was presented as an obnoxious stereotype. She said, “I realized that some imaginative work is worthy of this man.”
Cromwell became the dominant character in her trilogy, which followed when he transformed into one of Britain’s most powerful figures, then lost the king’s favour, and his head. “I will never meet another Thomas Cromwell, if you think about how long he has been in my consciousness,” Ms Mantell said in a 2020 interview.
Mr. Hamilton said: Mrs. Mantell was spared by her husband Mr. McQueen. The couple had no children, and a complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
Ms. Mantell has lived with chronic pain for most of her life. In her twenties, she realized she had endometriosis, a condition in which tissue similar to that lining the uterus grows elsewhere. At 27, after that diagnosis was confirmed, she underwent surgery to remove her uterus and ovaries, although that didn’t stop the pain.
The complications of her illness made normal daily work impossible, She said in an interview in 2020. “I have narrowed my choices in life, and limited them to writing,” she said.
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