Author Spotlight July 2020

Celebrating Hilary Mantel | Author Spotlight

Hilary Mantel, one of our favourite writers, turns 68 today. So we decided to share our appreciation of her and provide a short snapshot of her life.

The featured image is under copyright, © Els Zweerink.

I first encountered Hilary Mantel through her book A Change of Climate, and with Wolf Hall I became a huge fan. Mantel is an amazing storyteller – the kind who uses words to such advantage that they reel you in, and then leave you gasping for more.

Born on 6 July 1952, in Derbyshire, England, Mantel found herself writing stories that she wanted to read. At least, that was the case with her book, A Place of Greater Safety which is about the French Revolution. Having read three books by her (so far), I can tell you that her books carry the kind of comedy that make you laugh but that also show you a side of darkness. In that sense, they are a true reflection of life. Her characters are never singularly good or evil but a blend of both – you can find hope amid tragic scenes, and sometimes, in the middle of the good parts of her book, you find yourself feeling sad. 

You never know what to expect from her works, and that, to my mind, is the mark of a great writer. Her greatest strength is her style – from foreshadowing to using non-linear narratives, Mantel writes in ways that keep you reading long into the night. Her range of work is spectacular – from historical fiction to modern novels set in Saudi Arabia and Africa to memoirs, to articles in online publications, Mantel bleeds words. And I am grateful that she does!

6 Interesting Tidbits About Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is the two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize. She won them for Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She was the first woman to receive the award twice AND she also became the first author to win the award for a sequel.

Mantel moved to Botswana in 1977 with her husband and lived there for 5 years. Later, they moved to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and spent 4 years there. Both these countries became the subjects of her novels. 

Hilary Mantel has been twice married – She married Gerald McEwen (a geologist) in 1972, divorced him in 1980 and then, married him again in 1982!

Mantel was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2006 and a DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2014.

Mantel graduated from the University of Sheffield, with a B.A. in ­jurisprudence and went on to work in a geriatric hospital and a department store later. She published her first book, Every Day is Mother’s Day, in 1985 but only shot to fame in 2009 with Wolf Hall!

Mantel currently lives in Devon, England with her husband. 


The Mirror and the Light The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher Bring Up the Bodies Wolf Hall Beyond Black Giving Up the Ghost Learning to Talk The Giant, O’Brien An Experiment in Love A Change of Climate A Place of Greater Safety Fludd Eight Months on Ghazzah Street Vacant Possession Every Day is Mother’s Day

Awards & Honours

  • DBE, 2014
  • South Bank Sky Arts Award, 2013
  • David Cohen Prize, 2013
  • Costa Book of the Year, 2012
  • Women’s Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2013
  • Man Booker Prize for Fiction, 2012
  • James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction), 2010
  • Orange Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2010
  • Walter Scott Prize, 2010
  • Costa Novel Award (shortlist), 2009
  • Man Booker Prize for Fiction, 2009
  • National Book Critics’ Circle Award (US), 2009
  • CBE, 2006
  • Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book), 2006
  • Orange Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2006
  • Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year), 2006
  • Hawthornden Prize, 1996
  • Sunday Express Book of the Year, 1992
  • Southern Arts Literature Prize, 1990
  • The Cheltenham Prize, 1990
  • Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, 1990
  • Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, 1987

Have you read any works by Hilary Mantel? How did you enjoy them? Tell us, we would love to know!

By Sanskriti Nagar

I'm a storyteller on a journey - to connect people with places, the past with the present, the contemporary with the traditional. I'm just stepping into the shoes of an explorer, aspiring to be a globetrotter, and someday, a novelist. Follow me through my journeys, and if something does resonate with you, or you'd like me to cover a story for you, I'd love to catch up. (PS: I love coffee!)

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