Celebrated British novelist Dame Hilary Mantel has died at the age of 70, her publisher announced Friday.
“It is with great sadness that AM Heath and HarperCollins announce that bestselling author Dame Hilary Mantel DBE died suddenly yet peacefully yesterday, surrounded by close family and friends, aged 70,” HarperCollins said in a statement.
“Hilary Mantel was one of the greatest English novelists of this century and her beloved works are considered modern classics. She will be greatly missed.”
Mantel was best known for her sprawling Wolf Hall Trilogy about the life of 16th century statesman Thomas Cromwell. She twice won the prestigious Booker Prize—for Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies—which were adapted for TV and a successful West End show.
The final installment in the series, The Mirror and the Light, was published to widespread acclaim in 2020.
Before writing the trilogy that catapulted her into literary superstardom, Mantel released other popular novels including the epic historical fiction A Place of Greater Safety, which followed the central characters of the French Revolution. Her first novel, a black comedy based on her experiences working in a geriatric hospital, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985.
Nicholas Pearson, Mantel’s longtime editor, described her death as “devastating.”
“Only last month I sat with her on a sunny afternoon in Devon, while she talked excitedly about the new novel she had embarked on,” he told the Associated Press. “That we won’t have the pleasure of any more of her words is unbearable. What we do have is a body of work that will be read for generations.”
Mantel’s illustrious career as a writer saw her awarded with numerous honors, including being made a dame—the female equivalent of a knight—by Queen Elizabeth II in 2014.
In an article published in the Financial Times earlier this month, Mantel was asked what she would have done differently. “Run away from certain people who turned out to be ‘toxic,’” she answered. “I don’t have an inbuilt toximeter. Perhaps one should be retrofitted.”
The author also affirmed that she believed in an afterlife. “I can’t imagine how it might work,” she said. “However, the universe is not limited by what I can imagine.”
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