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Hilary Mantel Biography, Wikipedia, Author, Cause of Death, Family, Age, Children

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel Biography

Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, DBE, FRSL (/maentl/ man-TEL; born Hilary Thompson; July 6, 1952 – September 22, 2022) was a British author whose works include historical fiction, personal memoirs, and short tales. She passed away on September 22, 2022.  Every Day is Mother’s Day, the author’s debut novel, was released in the year 1985. She went on to publish a total of twelve novels, two collections of short stories, a personal biography, as well as a number of articles and pieces of commentary.

The first time Mantel was awarded the Booker Prize was for her novel Wolf Hall, which was published in 2009 and is a fictional account of Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in the court of Henry VIII. The second time she was awarded the Booker Prize was for the sequel to Wolf Hall, which was published in 2012 and is titled Bring Up the Bodies. The Mirror & the Light, the concluding volume of the Cromwell trilogy, was among the works considered for nomination for the award.

 

Early life 

She was the oldest of three children and was brought up as a Catholic in the mill hamlet of Hadfield, where she attended St. Charles Roman Catholic Primary School. Hilary Mary Thompson was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, and is the eldest of three children. Margaret Thompson (née Foster) and Henry Thompson, both of whom were of Irish origin but were born in England, were her parents. Her parents divorced when she was eleven years old, and she has not seen her father since that time. Jack Mantel (1932–1995), who had by this time moved in with them, became her de facto stepfather after the family moved to Romiley, which is located in the county of Cheshire. This relocation occurred after her father had left the family and after he had moved in with them. At this moment in time, she formally adopted the surname of her de facto stepfather.

She received her education at the Harrytown Convent school in Romiley, which is located in Cheshire. It was in 1970 when she first enrolled at the London School of Economics to begin reading law there. She began her legal education at the University of Sheffield, from which she emerged in 1973 with a Bachelor of Jurisprudence degree. After graduating from university, Mantel first obtained employment in the social work section of an elderly care facility, and then went on to find work as a sales assistant in a retail establishment.

 

Her marriage to the geologist Gerald McEwen took place in 1973. She started writing a novel about the French Revolution in 1974, but she was unable to find a publisher for it until 1992, when it was finally published under the title A Place of Greater Safety. In 1977, Mantel and her husband made the journey to Botswana, where they remained residents for the subsequent five years. After that, they remained in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a total of four years. She wrote a memoir on this time period and it was published in the London Review of Books. In later interviews, she described her departure from Jeddah as “the best day of [her] life.”

Literary career

Every Day is Mother’s Day, Mantel’s debut novel, was released in 1985, and Vacant Possession, the novel’s sequel, was released the following year in 1986. After moving back to the United States, she began working as a reviewer for a variety of publications in both the United Kingdom and the United States. During this time, she was the film critic for The Spectator, a job she held from 1987 to 1991. Her novel, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (1988), which was inspired by her time spent living in Saudi Arabia, examines the tensions between Islamic culture and the liberal Western world through the lens of a potentially dangerous clash of values that takes place between neighbors living in an urban apartment block. Her novel Fludd, which was awarded the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, is about a fictional northern community called Fetherhoughton and takes place in the year 1956. The story centers on a Roman Catholic church and a convent. A mysterious outsider is responsible for the changes that take place in the lives of individuals who come into contact with him.

Her two previous works had been nominated for the Sunday Express Book of the Year award prior to the publication of her third book, A Place of Greater Safety (1992), which went on to win the award. It is a lengthy novel that is historically true, and it follows the lives of three French revolutionaries named Danton, Robespierre, and Camille Desmoulins from their childhoods until they perish at a young age during the Reign of Terror in 1794.

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The film A Change of Climate (1994), which takes place in rural Norfolk and follows the Eldred family as they raise their four children and devote their lives to charity, examines the lives of Ralph and Anna Eldred. There are portions in it that discuss their early married lives as missionaries in South Africa, when they were imprisoned and exiled to Bechuanaland, as well as the tragedy that occurred there.

The novel An Experiment in Love (1996), which was awarded the Hawthornden Prize, is set in 1970 and takes place over the course of two undergraduate terms. It tracks the progression of three girls, two of whom are friends with one another and one of whom is their enemy, as they move away from home and attend university in London. This novel investigates the desires and aspirations of women and suggests how those desires and goals are frequently frustrated. Margaret Thatcher makes a cameo appearance in the story. Despite the fact that Mantel borrowed content from her own life, the novel is not an autobiographical account of her experiences.

Her subsequent work, titled The Giant, O’Brien (1998), is a historical novel that takes place in the 1780s and is inspired by the life events of Charles Byrne (also known as O’Brien). He traveled all the way to London with the intention of making a living by putting on a freak show. His skeleton can be seen in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in London right now. O’Brien and his adversary, the Scottish surgeon John Hunter, are portrayed in the narrative less as historical figures than as mythical heroes in a macabre and bloody fantasy. They are described as being inevitable casualties of the Age of Enlightenment. She converted the book into a play that was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and starred Alex Norton (in the role of Hunter) and Frances Tomelty.

Giving Up the Ghost, Mantel’s memoir, was released in 2003 and went on to win the “Book of the Year” award given out by MIND magazine. Learning To Talk was the title of her collection of short stories that was published the same year. All of the tales focus on childhood, and when read together, the books illustrate how the real-world occurrences of a life can be retold through the lens of fiction. Beyond Black, which she published in 2005, was one of the novels considered for the Orange Prize. It takes place in the late 1990s and the early 2000s and focuses on a professional medium named Alison Hart. Despite her cheerful and serene demeanor, she is suffering from horrific psychic harm. She constantly has a group of “fiends” following behind her, and although they are unable to be seen, they are always on the point of materializing.

The lengthy novel Wolf Hall, which is about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s minister, was released in 2009 and received widespread praise from reviewers.

The book was awarded the Booker Prize for that year, and Mantel’s response to the news that she had won the award was, “I can tell you at this moment I am blissfully flying through the air.”

The winner of the prize was determined to be “Wolf Hall” by a vote of three judges to two. During the evening ceremony that took place at the Guildhall in London, a trophy and a cash prize in the amount of £50,000 were given to Mantel. Wolf Hall was deemed a “amazing piece of narrative” by the judging panel, which was presided over by the broadcaster James Naughtie. The book was favored by bookmakers in the run-up to the award, and it was responsible for 45 percent of the total sales of all of the books that were nominated for the prize. It was the first time that a fan favorite had won the award since 2002. Mantel remarked, upon learning that she had won the prize, that she planned to blow the money on “sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to the critically acclaimed novel Wolf Hall, was released in May 2012 to widespread acclaim. It was awarded both the 2012 Costa Book of the Year and the 2012 Booker Prize. Mantel became the first British writer and the first woman to win the Booker Prize more than once as a result of her success with this novel. Mantel was the fourth author to receive the award twice, following J. M. Coetzee, Peter Carey and J. G. Farrell. This award also made Mantel the first author to win the award for a sequel. The books were adapted into plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company and were produced as a mini-series by BBC. In 2020 Mantel published the third novel of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, called The Mirror and the Light. The Mirror and the Light was selected for the longlist for the 2020 Booker Prize.

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She was also working on a short non-fiction book, titled The Woman Who Died of Robespierre, about the Polish playwright Stanisława Przybyszewska. Mantel also wrote reviews and essays, mainly for The Guardian,  the London Review of Books  and the New York Review of Books. The Culture Show programme on BBC Two broadcast a profile of Mantel on 17 September 2011.

In December 2016, Mantel spoke with Kenyon Review editor David H. Lynn on the KR Podcast about the way historical novels are published, what it is like to live in the world of one character for more than ten years, writing for the stage, and the final book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light.

She delivered the 2017 Reith Lectures on BBC Radio Four, talking about the theme of historical fiction. Her final one of these lectures was on the theme of adaptation of historical novels for stage or screen. Mantel’s lectures were selected by its producer, Jim Frank, as amongst the best of the long-running series.

Personal life 

Mantel married geologist Gerald McEwen in 1973. They went through a divorce in 1981 but remarried the following year in 1982. McEwen gave up geology so that he could run the business that his wife ran. They made their home at Budleigh Salterton, which is located in Devon.

Mantel suffered from an incapacitating and excruciating sickness when she was in her thirties. She was initially given a diagnosis of a mental disorder, hospitalized, and treated with antipsychotic medicines, which were said to create psychotic symptoms in her. As a direct result of this, Mantel avoided going to the hospital or seeing a doctor for several years. Finally, while she was in Botswana and at the end of her rope, she examined a medical textbook and came to the conclusion that she most likely had a severe form of endometriosis. This was a diagnosis that was later verified by physicians in London. Because of her disease and the necessary surgery that was performed at the time – a surgical menopause at the age of 27 – she was unable to have children, and the condition continued to cause problems throughout her life. Later on, she told me, “you’ve reasoned your way through concerns of fertility and menopause and what it means to be without children since it all happened tragically.” She said this to me because the event had a profound impact on her life. Because of this, Mantel came to realize that the problematic nature of the female body was a recurring issue in her work. In subsequent years, she got involved with the Endometriosis SHE Trust as a patron.

Mantel passed away on September 22, 2022, when he was 70 years old.

 

Views 

During her time as a student at the university, Mantel considered herself to be a socialist.

 

Comments on royalty 

Catherine, Princess of Wales, was forced to present herself publicly as a personality-free “shop window mannequin,” whose sole purpose is to deliver an heir to the throne, according to a remark made by Mantel in 2013 during a speech on media and royal women delivered at the British Museum. Mantel made this remark in reference to Catherine, Princess of Wales. Mantel also remarked, “It’s possible that monarchy as a whole is an irrational institution, but that doesn’t mean that when we observe it, we should act like onlookers at a mental institution like Bedlam. It doesn’t take much for cheerful curiosity to turn into malice “.

These comments sparked a significant amount of debate. They came under fire from both the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband; however, Jemima Khan stood up for Mantel.

 

Margaret Thatcher 

In an interview that was conducted in September 2014 and published in The Guardian, Mantel admitted that she had entertained fantasies about the assassination of Margaret Thatcher, who served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1983, and that she had fictionalized the event in a short story titled “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: 6 August 1983.” Thatcher’s supporters demanded that the police conduct an investigation, and in response, Mantel said, “Bringing in the police for an investigation was beyond anything I could have planned or hoped for since it immediately exposes them to contempt.”

Comments on Catholicism 

In her autobiography, “Giving Up the Ghost,” published in 2003, Mantel highlighted her religious beliefs. She was brought up as a Roman Catholic but stopped believing when she was 12 years old. Despite this, she claims the faith left an indelible mark on her:

[the] real cliché, the sense of guilt. You grow up believing that you’re wrong and bad. And for me, because I took what I was told really seriously, it bred a very intense habit of introspection and self-examination and a terrible severity with myself. So that nothing was ever good enough. It’s like installing a policeman, and one moreover who keeps changing the law. 

During an interview that took place in 2013, Mantel stated the following: “I believe that in today’s society, the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people.” She went on to state the following in the interview: “When I was a kid, I used to wonder why clergy members, such as priests and nuns, weren’t better people. They were, in my opinion, some of the most despicable people I had ever met.” These sentiments, in addition to the topics that were discussed in her earlier novel Fludd, caused some people to question her work in Wolf Hall. For example, Bishop Mark O’Toole made the following observation: “There is, without a shadow of a doubt, an anti-Catholic current running throughout that. Wolf Hall does not take a neutral stance.”

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List of works 

Novels 

  • Every Day is Mother’s Day series:
    1. Every Day is Mother’s Day: Chatto & Windus, 1985
    2. Vacant Possession: Chatto & Windus, 1986
  • Eight Months on Ghazzah Street: Viking Press, 1988
  • Fludd: Viking Press, 1989
  • A Place of Greater Safety: Viking Press, 1992
  • A Change of Climate: Viking Press, 1994
  • An Experiment in Love: Viking Press, 1995
  • The Giant, O’Brien: Fourth Estate, 1998
  • Beyond Black: Fourth Estate, 2005
  • Thomas Cromwell series:
    1. Wolf Hall: Fourth Estate, 2009 
    2. Bring Up the Bodies: Fourth Estate, 2012 
    3. The Mirror & the Light: Fourth Estate, 5 March 2020. ISBN 978-0007480999

Short story collections 

  • Learning to Talk (Fourth Estate, 2003)
    • “King Billy Is a Gentleman”
    • “Destroyed”
    • “Curved is the Line of Beauty”
    • “Learning to Talk”
    • “Third Floor Rising”
    • “The Clean Slate”
  • The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher (Fourth Estate, 2014) 
    • “Sorry to Disturb”
    • “Comma”
    • “The Long QT”
    • “Winter Break”
    • “Harley Street”
    • “Offences Against the Person”
    • “How Shall I Know You?”
    • “The Heart Fails Without Warning”
    • “Terminus”
    • “The English School”
    • “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”

Memoir 

  • Giving Up the Ghost (Fourth Estate, 2003)

Articles 

  • “What a man this is, with his crowd of women around him!”, London Review of Books, 30 March 2000.
  • “Some Girls Want Out”, London Review of Books, v. 26 no. 5, pg 14–18, 4 March 2004. Describes extreme fasting for religious purposes as “holy anorexia”, compares it with “secular anorexia”, and characterizes both as “social hypocrisy”.
  • “Diary”, London Review of Books, 4 November 2010.
  • “Blot, erase, delete: How the author found her voice and why all writers should resist the urge to change their past words”, Index Censorship, September 2016.

Awards and honours 

  • 1987 Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize 
  • 1990 Southern Arts Literature Prize for Fludd 
  • 1990 Cheltenham Prize for Fludd 
  • 1990 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize for Fludd 
  • 1992 Sunday Express Book of the Year for A Place of Greater Safety 
  • 1996 Hawthornden Prize for An Experiment in Love 
  • 2003 MIND Book of the Year for Giving Up the Ghost (A Memoir) 
  • 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book), shortlisted for Beyond Black 
  • 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction shortlisted for Beyond Black 
  • 2009 Booker Prize for Wolf Hall 
  • 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for Wolf Hall 
  • 2009 Honorary DLitt from Sheffield Hallam University 
  • 2010 Walter Scott Prize for Wolf Hall 
  • 2010 Specsavers National Book Awards “UK Author of the Year” for Wolf Hall 
  • 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction shortlisted for Wolf Hall 
  • 2011 Honorary DLitt from the University of Exeter 
  • 2011 Honorary DLitt from Kingston University 
  • 2012 Booker Prize for Bring Up the Bodies 
  • 2012 Specsavers National Book Awards “UK Author of the Year” for Bring Up the Bodies 
  • 2012 Costa Book Awards (Novel) for Bring Up the Bodies 
  • 2012 Costa Book Awards (Book of the Year) for Bring Up the Bodies 
  • 2013 David Cohen Prize 
  • 2013 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Bring up the Bodies 
  • 2013 Honorary DLitt from the University of Cambridge 
  • 2013 Honorary DLitt from the University of Derby
  • 2013 Honorary DLitt from Bath Spa University 
  • 2015 Honorary DLitt from the University of Oxford 
  • 2015 Honorary degree from the Oxford Brookes University 
  • 2016 British Academy President’s Medal 
  • 2016 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement 

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 Birthday Honours and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to literature. 

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