Mantel, Dame Hilary

Mantel, Dame Hilary, 1952–, English novelist, b. Hilary Mary Thompson. After working as a social worker, she moved to Botswana with her geologist husband and later to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, where she finished Every Day Is Mother's Day (1985), a darkly comic novel about a social worker and her very difficult case. Returning (1986) to London, she wrote a sequel, Vacant Possession (1986), and became a film and book critic for The Spectator. Of her succeeding novels, varied in setting, subject, and style, Beyond Black (2005), the story of a tormented psychic, is perhaps the finest. Her first novel (1979), A Place of Greater Safety, set during the French revolution, was published in 1992. The novels Wolf Hall (2009, Booker Prize), Bring Up the Bodies (2012, Booker Prize), and The Mirror and the Light (2020), which examine, in elegant prose, the life of Thomas Cromwell, the wily, charming counselor to Henry VIII, brought her international fame. Among the trilogy's themes are the nature of truth and lies and of state power and the conflict between reason and the irrational. Mantel has also written short stories. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014.

See her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost (2003); studies by E. Pollard et al. (2018) and L. Arnold (2019).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: English Literature, 20th cent. to the Present: Biographies