Hilary Mantell, the Booker Prize-winning author who turned Tudor-era power politics into page-turning fiction in the acclaimed Wolf Hall trilogy of historical novels, has died, her publisher said Friday. She was 70.

Mantel died “suddenly but peacefully” on Thursday surrounded by close family and friends, publisher HarperCollins said.

Mantel is credited with reviving historical fiction with Wolf Hall and two sequels about 16th-century English ruler Thomas Cromwell, right-hand man to King Henry VIII.

The publisher called Mantell “one of the greatest English novelists of this century.”

“Her favorite works are considered modern classics. She will be greatly missed,” the statement said.

Mantel has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize twice: for The Wolf Hall in 2009 and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies in 2012. Both of these have been adapted for stage and television.

The last part of the trilogy “Mirror and Light” was released in 2020.

Nicholas Pearson, a long-time editor at Mantel, said her death was “devastating”.

“Only last month I sat with her on a sunny afternoon in Devon as she talked excitedly about the new romance she had started,” he said. “The fact that we will no longer enjoy her words is unbearable. What we have is a body of work that will be read by generations.”

Before Wolf Hall, Mantel was a critical but modestly-selling author of novels on subjects ranging from the French Revolution (A Place of Greater Safety) to the life of a psychic (Beyond Black).

She also wrote a memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, which recounts years of ill health, including undiagnosed endometriosis that left her infertile.

She once said that years of illness destroyed her dream of becoming a lawyer, but made her a writer.

Mantello’s literary agent, Bill Hamilton, said the author had dealt with chronic health problems “stoically”.

“We will miss her immensely, but as a bright light for writers and readers, she leaves an extraordinary legacy,” he said.

Born in Derbyshire in central England in 1952, Mantell attended a convent school, then studied at the London School of Economics and Sheffield University. She worked as a social worker in a geriatric hospital, and she drew on this experience for her first two novels, Every Day is Mother’s Day, published in 1985, and Vacant Property, published the following year.

In the 1970s and 1980s, she lived in Botswana and Saudi Arabia with her husband, geologist Gerald McEwan.

Mantel had been a writer for nearly 25 years when her first book about Cromwell turned her into a literary superstar. She transformed a dim Tudor politician into a compelling, complex literary hero, alternately brooding and thuggish.

A self-made man who rose from poverty to power, Cromwell was the architect of the Reformation, helping King Henry VIII realize his wish to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn—and later get rid of Boleyn so he could marry Jane Seymour , the third of Henry’s six wives.

The Vatican’s refusal to annul Henry’s first marriage led to the monarch renouncing papal authority and appointing himself head of the Church of England.

This dramatic period saw England transform from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant nation, from a medieval kingdom to a nascent modern state, and it inspired countless books, films and television series, from A Man for All Time to The Tudors.

But Mantel managed to make the famous story exciting and tense.

“I really like the idea of ​​a historical novel being written in advance,” she told the Associated Press in 2009. – Remember that the people you follow did not know the end of their story. So they went forward day after day, pushed and shoved by circumstances, doing the best they could, but essentially walking in darkness.’

Mantel also turned his attention to contemporary British royalty. A 2013 lecture in which she described the former Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, as a “window mannequin with no personality” drew the ire of the British tabloid press.

Mantel said she was not talking about the duchess herself, but rather describing the view of Kate created by the press and public opinion. The author, however, received criticism from then-Prime Minister David Cameron, among others.

Right-wing commentators also took issue with a story titled “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”, which was an attack on the Conservative leader. It was published in 2014, the same year Queen Elizabeth II made Mantel a dame, the female equivalent of a knight.

Mantel remained politically open. An opponent of Brexit, she said in 2021 that she hopes to get Irish citizenship and become “European again”.

Mantel is survived by her husband.

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