Booker-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 Anglophone novelists of this century, winning the Booker Prize twice for Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, which also won Costa Book of the Year 2012.
The conclusion of her groundbreaking Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror & the Light, was published in 2020 to huge critical acclaim, was an instant Sunday Times bestseller and was long-listed for the Booker Prize 2020.
Her publisher confirmed she passed away “sudden but peacefully” on Thursday, 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 couldn’t imagine how it would 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 was “the greatest privilege” to work with the writer. “Her humor, stylistic audacity, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight characterize her as one of the greatest novelists of our time.”
“Hilary’s emails were sprinkled with fun jokes and jokes as she observed the world with relish, plunging into 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 that us mere mortals lacked, but when she saw the need for confrontation, she would go into battle fearlessly.”
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 photo book by Mantel and co-authors Ben Miles and George Miles.
The author had a chronic illness throughout her adult life, with a severe form of endometriosis that prevented her from having children. “Sometimes people try to convince me that somehow it made me a better writer, or that it meant I could keep the world at bay. But I’d rather deal with the world than with pain and the uncertainty that comes with it,” she told The Times in 2012.
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