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Mantel - a literary genius

Such a sad feeling at news of the death of the great English novelist Hilary Mantel.

I can only agree with J K Rowling's pithy response: 'We've lost a genius.'

Not just an English novelist but a novelist appreciated all over the world. She became the first British writer and the first woman to win the Booker Prize more than once, first with her novel, Wolf Hall (2009) followed by its sequel Bring Up the Bodies (2012). Then in 2020, the third book of the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, was selected on the longlist for the Booker Prize.

Her historical saga following the life and exploits of Henry VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, not only threw light on Cromwell's and the King's characters, but remains relevant in viewing the position of the British monarchy and the aristocratic families associated with it today.

A truly extraordinary writer over a range of genres.

An interview she gave to the BBC in 2013 illustrated her sensitive and intuitive character. She spoke about when she was twelve and visited the Wolsey Rooms, the most intimate part of Henry VIII's Hampton Court palace, and felt that she might sit down on the floor and stay there forever.

'The past is so close and yet irretrievable. ... Life gives you a thicker skin and you have to protect yourself in a way'.

Hilary Mantel died following a stroke on Thursday, 22 September, aged 70. Mantel died 'suddenly yet peacefully' while surrounded by close family and friends, according to publisher HarperCollins.

A Bachelor of Jurisprudence, Mantel was able to use her knowledge of the law to create a strong foundation to much of her historical fiction. Her death is a great loss to literature, to be felt for many decades to come.

Copyright: text C V Williams from Wiki and BBC Book Club 6 October 2013; photo NYT.



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