The Man Booker Prize

2009 - Hilary Mantel

Born: 6 July 1952, Glossop, Derbyshire

Author's quote: "Reason is no match for desire: when desire is purely and powerfully felt, it becomes a kind of reason of its own."

Field: Fiction

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By Hilary Mantel

About Hilary Mantel

Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, born 6 July 1952), is an English writer whose work ranges in subject from personal memoir and short story to historical fiction and essay. She has twice been awarded the Booker Prize.

She won her first Booker Prize for the 2009 novel Wolf Hall, a fictional account of Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in the court of Henry VIII. She won her second Booker Prize for the 2012 novel Bring Up the Bodies, the second installment of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Mantel was the first woman to receive the award twice, following in the footsteps of J. M. Coetzee, Peter Carey and J. G. Farrell (who posthumously won the Lost Man Booker Prize). The third installment to the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, is set to be published in 2015.

Hilary Mary Thompson was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, the eldest of three children and raised in the mill village of Hadfield. She attended St Charles local Roman Catholic primary school. Her parents, Margaret (née Foster) and Henry Thompson, both of Irish descent, were also born in England. Her parents separated and she did not see her father after age eleven. The family minus her father, but with Jack Mantel (1932-1995) who by now had moved in with them, relocated to Romiley, Cheshire, and Jack became her unofficial stepfather. She took her de facto stepfather's surname legally. She has explored her family background, the mainspring of much of her fiction, in her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost (2003).

She lost her religious faith at age 12 and says this left a permanent mark on her.

She attended Harrytown Convent in Romiley, Cheshire. In 1970, she began her studies at the London School of Economics to read law. She transferred to the University of Sheffield and graduated as Bachelor of Jurisprudence in 1973. During her university years, she was a socialist.

Her first novel, Every Day is Mother's Day, was published in 1985, and its sequel, Vacant Possession, a year later. Her novel Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (1988), drew on her first-hand experience in Saudi Arabia, uses a threatening clash of values between the neighbours in a city apartment block to explore the tensions between Muslim culture and the liberal West.

Her Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize-winning novel Fludd is set in 1956 in a fictitious northern village called Fetherhoughton, centring on a Roman Catholic church and a convent. A mysterious stranger brings about transformations in the lives of those around him.

A Place of Greater Safety (1992) won the Sunday Express Book of the Year award, for which her two previous books had been shortlisted. A long and historically accurate novel, it traces the career of three French revolutionaries, Danton, Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins, from childhood to their early deaths during the Reign of Terror of 1794.

A Change of Climate (1994), set in rural Norfolk, explores the lives of Ralph and Anna Eldred, as they raise their four children and devote their lives to charity. It includes chapters about their early-married life as missionaries in South Africa, when they were imprisoned and deported to Bechuanaland, and the tragedy that occurred there.

An Experiment in Love (1996), which won the Hawthornden Prize, takes place over two university terms in 1970. It follows the progress of three girls – two friends and one enemy – as they leave home and attend university in London. Margaret Thatcher makes a cameo appearance in this novel, which explores women's appetites and ambitions, and suggests how they are often thwarted. Though Mantel has used material from her own life, it is not an autobiographical novel.

Her next book, The Giant, O'Brien (1998), is set in the 1780s, and is based on the true story of Charles O'Brien or Byrne. He came to London to earn money by displaying himself as a freak. His bones hang today in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. The novel treats O'Brien and his antagonist, the Scots surgeon John Hunter, less as characters in history than as mythic protagonists in a dark and violent fairytale, necessary casualties of the Age of Enlightenment. She adapted the book for BBC Radio 4, in a play starring Alex Norton (as Hunter) and Frances Tomelty.

In 2003, Mantel published her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, which won the MIND 'Book of the Year' award. That same year she brought out a collection of short stories, Learning To Talk. All the stories deal with childhood and, taken together, the books show how the events of a life are mediated as fiction.

Her 2005 novel, Beyond Black, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Set in the years around the second millennium, it features a professional medium, Alison Hart, whose calm and jolly exterior conceals grotesque psychic damage. She trails around with her a troupe of 'fiends', who are invisible but always on the verge of becoming flesh.

The long novel Wolf Hall, about Henry VIII's minister Thomas Cromwell, was published in 2009 to critical acclaim. The book won that year's Man Booker Prize and, upon winning the award, Mantel said, "I can tell you at this moment I am happily flying through the air.

The sequel to Wolf Hall, called Bring Up the Bodies, was published in May 2012 to wide acclaim. It won the 2012 Costa Book of the Year and the 2012 Man Booker Prize; Mantel thus became the first British writer and the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize more than once. Mantel is working on the third novel of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, called The Mirror and the Light.



The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher - Hilary Mantel

By Amelia Gremelspacher

Each of these stories combines Mantel's trademark elegant turns of phrasing and her sly, bleak humor. Narrators regard the world with a jaundiced eye. Young or old, they have been jaded by the adults in their world whose incontinent views of right and wrong have skewed their perceptions. Readers of "Wolf Hall" may be startled by the wry wit on display, but Mantel has written in this vein before: notably "Beyond Black". My perverse favorite is "Comma" in which two marginally accepted children on the fringes of society watch a wealthy home for glimpses of a child with severe birth defects who appears to be a "comma". The physical metaphor is taken in a arc of brilliant writing until one of the girls come "full stop." All of these stories bear these twists, subtle and otherwise, of the observed judging those at the same margins as themselves. I would recommend this book not only to lovers of the short story, but any person fond of fine writing.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher - Hilary Mantel

By Stephen T. Hopkins

While I loved reading Hilary Mantel's long and intricate historical novels, I didn't know what to expect from a collection of ten short stories titled after one of them, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. A few pages in, I had the image: here's Mantel tossing off great writing as a sweet break from her longer writing. I found my eyes bulging during some of these stories, as I chuckled my way through others. I'm more impressed than ever at her versatility and the breadth of her writing skills. Any fan of short fiction will find a lot to enjoy in this collection, and book lovers who attend author readings will laugh at what that can be like from this author's hilarious point of view.