Hilary Mantel is the first woman to receive England’s coveted literary award: The Booker Prize. And she’s done it twice. But Mantel says the fame isn’t important.
“These things are not to be taken too seriously I think. The important thing is what I do in privacy and silence at my desk and will do in the years to come.”
Mantel’s desk is where she began writing the Thomas Cromwell trilogy that earned the Booker awards.
“I wanted to write about Cromwell, because simply, in drama and fiction, he has always been marginalized, and there is a great disjunction between, the picture historians have of him and the picture the ordinary reader or viewer has of him,” said Mantel.
When she writes mantel often immerses herself among places her characters would have walked and talked, like the Hampton Court Palace.
The Palace for Mantel, gives her a chance to bond with her characters,
“Any space in which your pupils stood which they breathed, is precious to you.”
Mantel’s immersion into Hampton Court and other historical sights come alive in her final book of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy “Mirror and the Light”. Mantel says this book like two before take an atypical approach to history.
“I think writing about men in history, is an area of great difficulty. And this is where I part company with a lot of historical novelists. Because when they wish to write about a woman, naturally to make the heroine, they want to make her feisty. But what you have to take on board is that this was a pre-feminist world, and even powerful women, even queens, considered that their natural world was subordinate to that of men,” said Mantel.
Anne Boleyn is one of the powerful women, Mantel writes about. And she has a clear answer when asked if she liked Boleyn,
“No I don’t but again it is hard for me to see straight now, because I am looking through Thomas Crowell’s eyes. So do I trust her? Not an inch,” said Mantel.
Mantel’s last novel will pick up shortly after Boleyn’s death. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until at least 2015 to get their hands on the book.