Hilary Mantel, author of the Tudor “Wolf Hall” saga, dies at 70.

Hilary Mantel, the Booker Prize-winning author who turned Tudor power politics into a page-turning fiction in the acclaimed “Wolf Hall” historical novel trilogy, is dead, her publisher said Friday. she was 70 years old

Mantel died “suddenly but peacefully” on Thursday while surrounded by close family and friends, editor HarperCollins said.

Mantel is credited with revitalizing historical fiction with “Wolf Hall” and two sequels to 16th-century English powerbroker Thomas Cromwell, right-hand man of King Henry VIII.

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

“His beloved works are considered modern classics. We will miss him very much “, reads a note.

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

The final installment of the trilogy, “The Mirror and the Light”, was released in 2020.

Nicholas Pearson, longtime editor of Mantel, said his death was “devastating”.

“Just last month I sat with her on a sunny afternoon in Devon, as she eagerly talked about the new novel she had started,” he said. “That we will no longer have the pleasure of hearing her words is unbearable. What we need to do is a body of work that will be read for generations. “

Prior to “Wolf Hall”, Mantel was the acclaimed, but modestly sold, novelist on topics ranging from the French Revolution (“A Place of Greater Safety”) to the life of a psychic medium (“Beyond Black”) .

She also wrote a memoir, “Giving Up the Ghost,” which chronicled years of poor health, including undiagnosed endometriosis that left her sterile.

She once said that her years of illness ruined her dream of becoming a lawyer, but made her a writer.

Mantel’s literary agent Bill Hamilton said the author has “stoically” dealt with chronic health problems.

“We will miss him immensely, but as a shining light for writers and readers he leaves an extraordinary legacy,” he said.

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

In the 1970s and 1980s she lived in Botswana and Saudi Arabia with her husband, Gerald McEwen, a geologist.

Mantel had been a published writer for nearly 25 years when her first book on Cromwell turned her into a literary superstar. You have transformed the obscure political fixer of the Tudors into a compelling and complex literary hero, in turn thoughtful and delinquent.

Cromwell, a self-made man who rose from poverty to power, was a Reform architect who helped King Henry VIII fulfill his desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anna Bolena and, later, get rid of Bolena so that he could marry Jane Seymour, the third of what would be Henry’s six wives.

The Vatican’s refusal to annul Henry’s first marriage led the monarch to refuse the authority of the pope and to establish himself at the head of the Church of England.

The dramatic period saw England transformed from a Roman Catholic nation to a Protestant nation, from a medieval kingdom to an emerging modern state, and inspired countless books, films and television series, from “A Man for All Seasons” to “The Tudors” .

But Mantel managed to make the famous story exciting and suspenseful.

“I am very excited about the idea that a historical novel should be written with a forward direction,” he told The Associated Press in 2009. “Remember that the people you are following did not know the end of their story. So they went on day after day, pushed and pushed by circumstances, doing their best, but essentially walking in the dark. “

Mantel also turned a keen eye on the royals of modern-day Britain. A 2013 conference in which he described former Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, as a “window display mannequin with no personality of his own” aroused the ire of the British tabloid press.

Mantel said he wasn’t talking about the Duchess herself, but rather describing a vision of Kate constructed by the press and public opinion. The author nevertheless received criticism from then Prime Minister David Cameron, among others.

Right-wing commentators also contested a story titled “The Murder of Margaret Thatcher,” which envisioned an attack on the Conservative leader. It was released in 2014, the same year that Queen Elizabeth II named Mantel a lady, the female equivalent of a knight.

Coat remained politically blunt. Opponent of Brexit, in 2021 she said she hoped to obtain Irish citizenship and become “European again”.

Mantel is survived by her husband.

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