Dame Hilary Mantel death: how old was best selling Wolf Hall author, which books did she write, cause of death

Wolf Hall author and multi-Booker Prize winner has died aged 70.

Acclaimed author Hilary Mantel has died aged 70, her publisher has confirmed.

The British writer was famous for her historical fiction, and she won the Booker Price twice for Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, novels which charted the rise of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s court. Dame Hilary’s loss has been described as “devastating” by 4th Estate Books.

When did Hilary Mantel die?

4th Estate Books confirmed that Dame Hilary died on Thursday (22 September). The author was 70 years old and his survived by her husband Gerald.

What has been said about her death?

4th Estate Books tweeted today (23 September) confirming the death of Dame Hilary.

Hilary Mantel, born in Glossop, is known for writing one of the great modern historical novels - Wolf Hall. She followed this up with Bring up the Bodies in 2012 and The Mirror & The Light in 2020, both of which also received wide critical acclaim.

The publisher said: “We are heartbroken at the death of our beloved author, Dame Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband, Gerald.

“This is a devastating loss and we can only be grateful she left us with such a magnificent body of work.”

What is the cause of her death?

Dame Hilary’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

4th Estate Books simply announced her death but did not give further details.

What books did Hilary Mantel write?

Dame Hilary’s first novel Every Day is Mother’s Day in 1985 - it was part of the Every Day is Mother’s Day series.

But she rose to wider prominence with her novel Wolf Hall published in 2009.

Telling a fictionalised biography of the rise of Thomas Cromwell under the reign of Henry VIII, the book won the Booker Prize.

It was the first book in a trilogy about the life and ultimate fall of the Tudor figure.

A sequel Bring Up The Bodies was published in 2012 and also won the Booker Prize - making Dame Hilary a two -time winner of the prestigious award.

The third and final book in the Thomas Cromwell series - The Mirror and the Light - was released in 2020.

It was the only book in the trilogy not to win the Booker Prize, but did win the 2021 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction.

She also produced a couple of collections of short stories including 2014’s The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher which featured the titular story.

What adaptions of her work exist?

BBC produced a series based on Wolf Hall and Bright Up The Bodies.

The six-part drama was released in 2015, starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Wolsey.

A two-part stage adaption of the first two books in the trilogy called Wolf Hall Parts One & Two was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The novels were adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton.

Tributes have begun to flood in for Dame Hilary

Nicholas Pearson, former Publishing Director of 4th Estate and Dame Hilary’s long-term editor said: “The news of Hilary’s death is devastating to her friends and everyone who worked with her.”

He revealed she had been working on a new book, saying: “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.

“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. We must be grateful for that. I will miss her and my thoughts are with her husband Gerald.”

Praising Dame Hilary’s writing style, he said: “Hilary had a unique outlook on the world — she picked it apart and revealed how it works in both her contemporary and historical novels — every book an unforgettable weave of luminous sentences, unforgettable characters and remarkable insight. She seemed to know everything.

“For a long time she was critically admired, but The Wolf Hall Trilogy found her the vast readership she long deserved. Read her late books, but read her early books too, which are similarly daring and take the reader to strange places. As a person Hilary was kind and generous and loving, always a great champion of other writers. She was a joy to work with.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted “it is impossible to overstate the significance of the literary legacy Hilary Mantel leaves behind”.

She added: “Her brilliant Wolf Hall trilogy was the crowning achievement in an outstanding body of work. Rest in peace.”

Paying tribute, publishers HarperCollins described Dame Hilary as “one of the greatest English novelists of this century”.

Their statement went on: “Her beloved works are considered modern classics. She will be greatly missed.”

Bill Hamilton, Dame Hilary’s agent at literary agency A.M. Heath, said it had been the “greatest privilege” to work with her throughout her career.

He said: “Her wit, stylistic daring, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight mark her out as one of the greatest novelists of our time.

“She will be remembered for her enormous generosity to other budding writers, her capacity to electrify a live audience, and the huge array of her journalism and criticism, producing some of the finest commentary on issues and books.

“Emails from Hilary were sprinkled with bon mots and jokes as she observed the world with relish and pounced on the lazy or absurd and nailed cruelty and prejudice.

“There was always a slight aura of otherworldliness about her, as she saw and felt things us ordinary mortals missed, but when she perceived the need for confrontation she would fearlessly go into battle.

“And all of that against the backdrop of chronic health problems, which she dealt with so stoically. We will miss her immeasurably, but as a shining light for writers and readers she leaves an extraordinary legacy. Our thoughts go out to her beloved husband Gerald, family and friends.”