Hilary Mantel, the first British writer to win the Booker Prize twice and who has sold millions of books worldwide, has died at the age of 70, her publishers have announced.
“We are heartbroken by the death of our beloved author, Dame Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband, Gerald,” said 4th Estate Books.
“This is a devastating loss and we can only be grateful that he left us such a magnificent job,” he added, without giving any further details.
Mantel won the Booker Prize for “Wolf Hall” (2009) and “Bring Up the Bodies” (2012) and would win again in 2020 with “The Mirror & The Light”, the third in the trilogy.
The Wolf Hall Trilogy has so far been translated into 41 languages with worldwide sales of over five million.
The television adaptation of the first two books, starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy and Jonathan Pryce, was nominated for both Emmys and Golden Globes.
“We lost a genius,” tweeted author JK Rowling on Friday, bringing the tributes.
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Twitter that it is “impossible to overstate the significance of the literary legacy that Hilary Mantel leaves behind”, describing the Wolf Hall Trilogy as her “success”.
Its publisher called Mantel “one of the greatest English novelists of this century” whose works are considered “modern classics” and which “will be greatly missed”.
Nicholas Pearson, former editorial director of the 4th Estate, said the news of her death was a terrible loss to both those who knew her and the world of literature.
“Hilary had a unique view of the world – she took it apart and revealed how it works in both her contemporary and historical novels – each book is an unforgettable interweaving of bright phrases, unforgettable characters and extraordinary insights.
“She seemed to know everything. For a long time she was admired by critics, but The Wolf Hall Trilogy found her the large readership she long deserved.”
Just last month Mantel told him he was working on a new book, Pearson added.
“The fact that we will no longer have the pleasure of his words is unbearable,” he said.
Mantel published her first novel in 1985, “Every Day Is Mother’s Day,” a dark comic story about a mentally disabled girl and her terrifying mother communicating with the undead.
He drew on Mantel’s post-graduate period as a social worker, but it wasn’t the first novel he had written.
That manuscript was written in the 1970s, but only emerged in 1992 as “A Place of Greater Security”, set in the years leading up to the French Revolution of 1789 and its bloody aftermath.
The writer did not fight for fear of controversy.
Interviewed by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica in September 2021, Mantel stated that he intended to acquire Irish citizenship, “to return to being European” after Brexit.
In 2013 she drew criticism after she was cited for describing Prince William Catherine’s wife, now Princess of Wales, as a “window display mannequin” whose sole purpose was to reproduce.
Mantel was forced to defend her comments which, in her opinion, were taken out of context and were intended to address the perception of the created princess in the media.
She was also convicted in 2014 for her work “The Murder of Margaret Thatcher”, a collection of 10 short stories including one with the same title.
Outraged supporters of the former British Prime Minister denounced it as a “sick book from a sick mind”.
But Mantel responded, saying that history has shown how easily events could have taken a different path.
“There is no need for me or any writer to justify or explain himself to people who have no interest in fiction except when it feeds their vague sense of being hurt in some way,” she said.