Dame Hilary Mantel dies aged 70 leaving behind unfinished novel

Ben Miles, who played Thomas Cromwell in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage adaptations of the Wolf Hall novels, also paid tribute.

“She was an extraordinary woman. A good friend and a close colleague. I feel so honoured to have known her and to have contributed in a small way to the work of one of the greatest writers of our time.

“I shall dearly miss her kindness, her humour and her gentle tenacity. The indisputable genius of her words remains as some small consolation to this tragic loss,” Miles said.

Dame Hilary was planning a move to Ireland because she no longer wished to live in the UK post-Brexit. “Much as I love where I live now – in the West Country, by the sea – I feel the need to be packing my bags, and to become a European again,” she said last year.

In her final interview, published two weeks ago in the Financial Times, Dame Hilary was asked if she believed in an afterlife. “Yes,” she replied. “I can’t imagine how it might work. However, the universe is not limited by what I can imagine.”

Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed books 

She is the author of seventeen acclaimed books including:

  1. Every Day is Mother’s Day
  2. Vacant Possession
  3. Eight Months on Ghazzah Street
  4. Fludd, winner of the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, the Cheltenham Prize and the Southern Arts Literature Prize
  5. A Place of Greater Safety, winner of the Sunday Express Book of the Year award
  6. A Change of Climate
  7. An Experiment in Love, winner of the 1996 Hawthornden Prize
  8. The Giant, O’Brien,
  9. Beyond Black, shortlisted for a 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize and for the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction
  10. Learning to Talk
  11. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Her non-fiction work includes the memoir Giving up the Ghost – her collected writings from the London Review of Books, Mantel Pieces and most recently The Wolf Hall Picture Book – a photography collaboration between Hilary Mantel, Ben Miles and George Miles. 

In 1990 she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, in 2006 awarded a CBE and in 2014 she was appointed DBE. 

Dame Hilary was patron of Scene and Heard, a theatrical mentoring project, Governor of RSC and President of the Budleigh Festival. 

Tributes to Dame Hilary Mantel

Bill Hamilton, her agent at AM Heath said: “I first met Hilary in 1984 after she sent in the manuscript of Every Day is Mother’s Day. 

“It has been the greatest privilege to work with her through the whole of her career, and to see all the elements that made her unique come together spectacularly in The Wolf Hall Trilogy. Her wit, stylistic daring, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight mark her out as one of the greatest novelists of our time.”

Nicholas Pearson, former Publishing Director of 4th Estate and Hilary’s long-term editor said: “Hilary had a unique outlook on the world – she picked it apart and revealed how it works in both her contemporary and historical novels – every book an unforgettable weave of luminous sentences, unforgettable characters and remarkable insight.”

Charlie Redmayne, CEO HarperCollins said: “We are so proud that 4th Estate and HarperCollins were Hilary’s publisher, and for such a peerless body of work. A writer to the core, Hilary was one of the greatest of her generation – a serious, fearless novelist with huge empathy for her subjects.”

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