The Booker prize-winning author of the Wolf Hall trilogy, Dame Hilary Mantel, has died aged 70, her publisher HarperCollins has confirmed.
Mantel was regarded as one of the greatest English-language novelists of this century, winning the Booker Prize twice, for Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, which also won the 2012 Costa Book of the Year.
The conclusion to her ground-breaking Wolf Hall Trilogy, The Mirror & the Light, was published in 2020 to huge critical acclaim, an instant Sunday Times bestseller and longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020.
Her publisher confirmed she had died on Thursday “suddenly yet peacefully”, surrounded by close family and friends.
When asked by the Financial Times earlier this month whether she believed in an afterlife, Mantel said she did, but that she couldn’t imagine how it might work. “However, the universe is not limited by what I can imagine,” she said.
Ben Hamilton, who was Mantel’s agent throughout her career, said it had been “the greatest privilege” to work with the writer. “Her wit, stylistic daring, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight mark her out as one of the greatest novelists of our time.”
“Emails from Hilary were sprinkled with bon mots and jokes as she observed the world with relish and pounced on the lazy or absurd and nailed cruelty and prejudice,” he added. “There was always a slight aura of otherworldliness about her, as she saw and felt things us ordinary mortals missed, but when she perceived the need for confrontation she would fearlessly go into battle.”
To date the Wolf Hall trilogy has sold more than five million copies worldwide and has been translated into 41 languages. Earlier this month HarperCollins published The Wolf Hall Picture Book, a photography book by Mantel and co-authors Ben Miles and George Miles.
The author experienced chronic illness throughout her adult life, having a severe form of endometriosis that left her unable to have children. “Sometimes people try to persuade me that it’s made me a better writer in some way, or that it has meant that I could keep the world at bay. But I’d rather cope with the world than cope with pain, and the uncertainty that goes with it”, she told The Times in 2012.
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