Hilary Mantel wins the 2012 Man Booker Prize
Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize for the second time making her the first female novelist to do so. Receiving the £50,000 prize at last Tuesday’s ceremony, Mantel joked “you wait 20 years and two come along at once”.
Hilary Mantel’s first Man Booker prize winning novel Wolf Hall (2009), chronicled the life of the controversial historical figure Thomas Cromwell, charting his rise from relative poverty and obscurity to becoming part of Henry VIII’s inner circle, influencing the most important political decisions of the day as the King’s most powerful minister.
Bring up the Bodies – the second novel in what will become a historical trilogy – sees Cromwell pitted against Anne Boleyn as she begins to lose favour with the King for not baring a male heir, only increasing in light of his growing affections for the next queen, Jane Seymour. His infamous Machiavellian approach to politics is portrayed through his involvement with Boleyn’s downfall, made all the more engrossing as Mantel delicately imagines his inner thinking and devious plotting to strengthen his growing profile under the Tudor monarchy.
Both novels are credited with re-telling a tale any school pupil will be familiar with, the drama of Henry VIII’s court and marriages, with a fresh eyes. The chair of judges Sir Peter Stothard stated that Bodies is a “very remarkable piece of prose that transcends the work already written by a great English prose writer. This is a bloody story of Anne Boleyn. Mantel is a writer who thinks through blood. She uses her art, her power of prose, to create moral ambiguity and the real uncertainty of political life – then and now.”
With two well deserved windfalls of £50,000 in four years, will the 60-year-old Mantel be slowing down?
“I think I’ve got a few writing years in me yet”.
And what did Hilary spend her 2009 winnings on?
“Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”. This year? “Rehab”.
This novelist clearly hasn’t lost her knack for quick humour and excellent delivery, precisely why thousands of avid readers will be anxiously awaiting the final instalment of the trilogy The Mirror and the Light.
For more information about the Man Booker prize, visit the website.