The writer Hilary Mantel dies, a key figure in British letters

British writer Hilary Mary Thompson, known as Hilary Mantel, has died at the age of 70 after a literary career that highlighted her famous trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, chief minister of Henry VIII, for which she won numerous British literary awards.

For “Wolf Hall” (“In the court of the wolf”, 2009) she was awarded the Booker Prize and the second installment, “Bring Up the Bodies” (“A queen on the stand”, 2012), earned her that award, making her the first woman to receive the award twice.

Born on July 6, 1952 in Glossop, central England, in 1973 she received a law degree from the University of Sheffield and later worked briefly in a geriatric hospital, an experience that she reflected in her novels.

In 1972 she married the geologist Gerald McEwen, with whom she moved to Botswana in 1977, where she lived for five years before moving to Saudi Arabia, where she lived for four years and where she set some of her works.

Back in the UK in the mid-1980s, she worked as a film critic for “The Spectator” magazine, as well as writing literary reviews and essays for “The Guardian” and “London Review of Books.”

Representative of the Historical Novel

In 1985 he published his first novel, “Every day is mother’s day”, which was followed a year later by its sequel, “Vacant possesion”.

His third work, “Eight Months on Ghazzah Street” (“The glass cage”, 1988), was inspired by his experiences in Saudi Arabia to tell the clash between Islamic and Western culture.

Since then he published about a dozen novels, focused on biographical or historical themes.

Non-historical fiction includes “Fludd” (1989), “A change of climate” (1994), which tells the story of a missionary couple in Africa, “An experiment love” (“Experiment of love”, 1996), about the experiences of three girls when they entered university in the 70s, or “Beyond Black” (“After the shadow”, 2005), the story about a medium that made her a finalist for the Orange Prize.

However, it is his works of historical fiction that brought him the most recognition.

It began with “A place of Greater Safety” (“The shadow of the guillotine”, 1992), which traveled over the biographies of three French revolutionaries: Dalton, Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins, and continued with “The Giant, O Brien” (1998 ), about an Irishman who in 1870 became a fairground attraction in London.

The trilogy that made him famous

The trilogy on Cromwell was the one that catapulted him to literary fame and, apart from the two Bookers, awarded him the also prestigious Costa Award.

In 2020 he completed the triptych with “The thunder in the kingdom” (“The Mirror and the Light”).

In his autobiography “Giving up the Ghost” (2003), Mantel recounted his “encounters” with the Devil, the first of which took place at the age of seven.

Very marked by the Catholicism of her parents, the author always showed great interest in the world of the supernatural, having lived as a child in a house supposedly haunted by spirits or later in an old psychiatric hospital, where, she said, she lived among the ” shadows” of the old patients.

Mantel, who suffered severe pain in her youth attributed to a mental illness that ultimately turned out to be endometriosis, chaired the Endometriosis She Trust.

On September 23, 2022, her publisher, HarperCollins, reported her death: “We are devastated by the death of our beloved author, Lady Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband, Gerald,” HarperCollins noted in a message on its social networks.

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