SOLD OUT – Hilary Mantel at RNCMSarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Pre-empting this year’s full programme in October, Manchester Literature Festival have joined forces with the Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester to present An Evening With Hilary Mantel, hosted by author Kamila Shamsie.
The special event will celebrate the launch of Hilary’s 12th novel, The Mirror & The Light, the concluding book in her internationally acclaimed “Tudor Trilogy”. Also known as the Thomas Cromwell series, the first was “the epic and extraordinary” Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2009, followed by Bring Up The Bodies, which picked up the Man Booker Prize 2012, making her the first British author to win two Booker Prizes and the only writer to have won with two consecutive novels. Could The Mirror & The Light bring a third?
The first British author to win two Booker Prizes and the only writer to have won with two consecutive novels. Could The Mirror & The Light bring a third?
Herself no stranger to Booker dust, with most recent novel Home Fire ending up on the longlist for the 2017 Prize, you can bet that senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester and MLF Patron Kamila Shamsie will have done her history homework, being something of a fan herself; her sixth novel A God In Every Stone having been shortlisted for the prestigious Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
With The Mirror & The Light, Hilary Mantel traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son from Putney who has clawed his way to the heights of power and wealth. It is May 1536 as the book opens. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner; Cromwell’s formidable master, Henry VIII, settling in to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour. Set against a backdrop of that spring’s bloodbath, The Mirror & The Light – the blurb explains – offers “a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage”.
Hilary’s previous novels include the two-book Every Day Is Mother’s Day series, Fludd, A Place Of Greater Safety and Beyond Black, and she has also written memoir, including 2003’s Giving Up The Ghost, and short stories, including the controversy-sparking The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher, which appeared in Salt Publishing’s Best British Short Stories anthology of 2015, edited by Manchester Fiction Prize chair Nicholas Royle and which Norman Tebbit called “a sick book from a sick mind”. Something makes us think Hilary won’t have minded one bit…