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5 Things You Didn't Know About... Hilary Mantel


1st Jan 2015 Meet the Author

5 Things You Didn't Know About... Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel remains the only woman to have won the Booker Prize twice, in 2009 for the novel Wolf Hall, a work of fiction exploring the rise of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII, and in 2010 for Bringing up the Bodies, a sequel to Wolf Hall.

Her third novel and the third instalment of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy is due to be published in 2015, raising hopes for a hat-trick of Booker Prizes. We've rounded up five facts that you might not know about this well respected author:

1. Hilary was a bit of a late bloomer, in literary terms

The 62-year-old Mantel came to fame late in life; although she has been publishing novels to some critical acclaim since the 1980s, it wasn't until Wolf Hall was published in 2009 that she truly made a name for herself, winning the Booker Prize.

When she won the prize it was the bookies' favourite, making it the first front-runner to be awarded the Man Booker Prize since The Life of Pi by Yann Martel in 2002.

2. She's admitted to fantasising about Margaret Thatcher's assassination

Her recent collection of stories, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, contains tales which were dreamed up under the influence of drugs.

Although she is quoted as saying that she would spend her Booker Prize money on, "Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll", the author was in fact in hospital when she had her hallucinatory experience. She says that, whilst in hospital pumped full of morphine, she began writing a collection of stories, including the titular tale, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.

She had started it many years previously, but the hallucinations which she experienced under the influence of narcotics allowed her to finally finish the story, along with many others. Incidentally, she has also confessed to fantasising about the murder of Margaret Thatcher in real life, after which Thatcher supporters called for a police enquiry. 

3. She suffers from severe endometriosis

This disorder affects the womb and necessitated a long stay in hospital for Mantel in 2010. Although she has suffered for many years it was initially dismissed by doctors as a psychiatric illness, meaning that she didn't receive treatment until much later than she should have.

The treatment has left her unable to bear children and the steroids that she needs to take have caused her to gain weight and have changed her appearance significantly.

4. She's not exactly a flag-waving royalist

Mantel is extremely critical of the British royal family, describing the Duchess of Cambridge as being forced to present herself as a "shop window mannequin" whose only job is to birth heirs to the throne. She has also described the existence of the monarchy as irrational and her views have been criticised by several leading politicians.

5. She once divorced her husband (but not for long)

Hilary Mantel married her geologist husband Gerald McEwen in 1972 - but it hasn't all been plain sailing. After travelling around the world together and living in Botswana and Saudi Arabia, the two divorced.

That wasn't the end of the story though, because several years later they were re-married. The course of true love certainly never ran smooth for these two!

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