Dame Hilary Mantel, the Booker Prize–winning author of the Wolf Hall trilogy, passed away at the age of 70, according to HarperCollins, her publisher.
One of the best English-language writers of the 20th century, Mantel won the Booker Prize twice for her works, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the latter of which also took home the 2012 Costa Book of the Year award.
The Mirror & the Light, the last instalment of her ground-breaking Wolf Hall trilogy, was released in 2020 to resounding praise, became an instant Sunday Times bestseller, and was longlisted for the Booker award.
She passed away on Thursday “suddenly yet quietly,” according to HarperCollins, surrounded by her loved ones.
Mantel said that she believed in an afterlife when asked by the Financial Times earlier this month if she could see how it would operate. However, she said, “The cosmos is not constrained by what I can envision.
Working with Mantel was “the greatest honour,” according to Bill Hamilton, who represented her throughout her career. One of the finest novels of our time, according to critics, she stands out for her humour, stylistic risk-taking, creative ambition, and extraordinary historical knowledge.
Additionally, he said that Hilary’s emails were “sprinkled with bon mots and laughs as she surveyed the world with gusto and pounced on the lazy or silly and hammered harshness and prejudice.” She always had a faint air of the otherworldly since she was able to sense things that we mere mortals could not, yet when she felt a desire for conflict, she would bravely engage in combat.
The Wolf Hall trilogy has been published in 41 different languages and has sold more than five million copies worldwide. The Wolf Hall Picture Book, a photographic book written by Mantel and co-authors Ben Miles and George Miles, was released by HarperCollins earlier this month.
The author had a severe form of endometriosis throughout her adult life, which prevented her from becoming pregnant after surgery. “Sometimes people attempt to convince me that it has improved my writing in some manner or that it has enabled me to maintain my composure in the face of the outside world. But I’d rather deal with the world than deal with pain and the accompanying uncertainty,” she said in a 2012 interview with the Times.
On July 6, 1952, Mantel was born in Glossop, Derbyshire. She earned degrees in law from Sheffield University and the London School of Economics before working as a social work assistant at a hospital for the elderly. In 1972, Mantel wed geologist Gerald McEwan.
In 1982, the pair wedded after divorcing in 1981. She started writing a book on the French Revolution in 1974, and it was eventually published as A Place of Greater Safety in 1992. Mantel and her spouse relocated to Botswana in 1977 and stayed there for five years. They later spent four years in Saudi Arabia before arriving back in Britain in the middle of the 1980s.
Mantel penned 17 highly regarded books in all, including the bestsellers Every Day Is Mother’s Day, Vacant Possession, Beyond Black, and Giving Up the Ghost.
She was chosen as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1990; in 2006, she received a CBE; and in 2014, she received a DBE.
In 2013, the Royal Shakespeare Company staged adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, in which the author had a significant role. The Mirror & the Light, which Mantel herself adapted and which also starred actor Ben Miles, was performed in 2021 at London’s Gielgud Theatre.
Following her passing, several people paid respect to Mantel on Twitter. Damian Barr, a writer and broadcaster, called her passing “such a loss.”