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Sunday 16 June, 2024
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‘Wolf Hall’ saga author Hilary Mantel dead at 70, Cause of Death

BY Sharmeen Hussain Sep 23, 2022. 12:58 pm UPDATED: Sep 23, 2022. 12:58 pm

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In the celebrated “Wolf Hall” trilogy of historical books, Hilary Mantel, the Booker Prize-winning author who transformed Tudor power dynamics into gripping fiction, has passed away. She was 70.

Mantel passed away “suddenly yet quietly” on Friday, HarperCollins, her publisher, said. She was accompanied by her loved ones.

With “Wolf Hall” and its two sequels on King Henry VIII’s right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell, an English powerbroker in the 16th century, Mantel is recognised with revitalising historical fiction.

Mantel is “one of the greatest English authors of this century,” according to the publisher.

“Her well-known compositions are regarded as contemporary masterpieces. She will be sorely missed, the statement said.

For “Wolf Hall” in 2009 and its follow-up, “Bring Up the Bodies,” Mantel won the Booker Prize twice. For both the stage and television, adaptations were made.

The final installment, “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.”

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Before “Wolf Hall,” Mantel 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”).

Her autobiography, “Giving Up the Ghost,” which she also wrote, 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.

She became a literary sensation thanks to Mantel’s book about Cromwell. 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 realising 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.

The dramatic period during which England underwent these transformations—from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant country, from a mediaeval kingdom to an emerging modern state—has served as the inspiration for countless works of literature, motion pictures, and television shows, from “A Man for All Seasons” to “The Tudors.”

“I’m very keen on the idea that a historical novel should be written pointing forward,” she told The Associated Press in 2009. “Remember that the people you are following didn’t know the end of their own story. So they were going forward day by day, pushed and jostled by circumstances, doing the best they could, but walking in the dark, essentially.”

 

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