British novelist Hilary Mantel dies at 70

British novelist Hilary Mantel dies at 70
British novelist Hilary Mantel dies at 70

First writer to win the Booker Prize twice, best known for her trilogy The counselordedicated to the tumultuous life of Thomas Cromwell.

“It is with great sadness that HarperCollins announces that bestselling author Lady Hilary Manteldied peacefully, surrounded by family and close friends, yesterday at the age of 70., indicates the publishing house in a press release. The writer published her first book in 1985, It’s Mother’s Day every day. She is best known for her trilogy The counselordedicated to the tumultuous life of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister of King Henry VIII in the 16th century, had created queues outside bookstores when it was released in March 2020.

She is the first to win the prestigious British Booker Prize twice for the first parts of the series, translated into 41 languages: In the Shadow of the Tudors and The power. The third, The Mirror and the Lightwas tipped by many critics to complete the winning trio, without ultimately succeeding. “For a long time she was admired by critics, but the trilogy (..) allowed her to find the vast audience she long deserved”said his former editor, Nicholas Pearson, on Friday.

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Each of his books was “an unforgettable plot of luminous phrases, unforgettable characters and remarkable vision”, he observed, recounting that the writer was still working last month on a new novel. Hilary Mantel has often swum against the tide since the 1985 publication of her first book. Full of dark humor, the story chronicles the mysterious pregnancy of a mentally handicapped girl and her spiritualist mother.

Northern and poor woman

Of Irish origin, Hilary Mantel was born on July 6, 1952 with the disadvantage of being “woman, northern and poor”she said in her memoirs, Giving Up the Ghost, published in 2003. The book describes a girl with an overactive imagination who grows up in a village in Derbyshire, following the teaching of doctrinaire Catholic nuns. She explains that she lost her faith at the age of eleven, when she saw her father for the last time. He left after four years of cohabitation with his wife’s lover.

The writer is studying law at the London School of Economics to become a lawyer. But in 1971, she enrolled at the University of Sheffield and thus became closer to her fiancé Gerald McEwen, who was studying geology in this limestone region. In her autobiography she recalls that one of her tutors in Sheffield “was a bored local notary” and that “didn’t think women belonged in his class.”

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Vast subject that is misogyny for Hilary Mantel. At the end of her studies, she developed debilitating pain in her abdomen and legs. Doctors judged her “hysterical, neurotic, difficult” and put her on psychotropic drugs. It wasn’t until years later, while living in Botswana – her fiancé preferred searching for diamonds to limestone – that the writer found her symptoms in a medical textbook. She finally manages to get the doctors to take her illness seriously. Hilary Mantel suffers from endometriosis.

Operated in London in 1979, the intervention made her infertile and hormonal treatments led to rapid weight gain, a double trauma. She imagined her life with a girl named Catriona. This much-desired child became the most heartbreaking ghost of the many specters that dot his work.

Very critical of the monarchy and Brexit, Hilary Mantel said last year that she wanted to apply for Irish nationality to “become European again.”

The article is in French

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