Photo ©Hilary Mantel
Honorary Graduate breaks Man Booker record
Hilary Mantel CBE (Hon DLitt 2011), last night became the first British author and first woman to have won the prestigious literary award – the Man Booker Prize – twice.
She won the award for her novel Bring Up the Bodies, sequel to 2009 winner Wolf Hall.
Hilary Mantel CBE (Hon DLitt 2011), last night became the first British author and first woman to have won the prestigious literary award – the Man Booker Prize - twice. She won the award for her novel Bring Up the Bodies.
Hers is a story unique in Man Booker history. She becomes only the third author, after Peter Carey and J.M. Coetzee, to win the prize twice. But she is also the first to win with a sequel (Wolf Hall won in 2009) and the first to win with such a brief interlude between books. Wolf Hall is set in Tudor times, it follows the life of Thomas Cromwell – Chief Minister to King Henry Vlll. Bring Up the Bodies is its sequel and charts the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Her resuscitation of Thomas Crowell – and with him the historical novel – is one of the great achievements of modern literature. The third and final part of the trilogy will be The Mirror and the Light, which Hilary has yet to write so her Man Booker tale may yet have a further chapter.
The Honorary Graduate, who last week entertained a packed Alumni Auditorium at a special event celebrating her work, is someone who truly values the education she received.
“I was the first member of my family to have a higher education and only the second to have a secondary education,” she said, ahead of the tribute evening.
Her parents left school at 14 but as she put it herself: “I am child of the 1944 Education Act,” which enabled her to get a grammar school scholarship and go on to university unlike other relatives.
She added: “I find it sad to think how intelligent some of my family were and they never had the chance to widen their horizons.”
Hilary has certainly made the most of the opportunities her education afforded her. She is widely heralded as one of the greatest authors of her generation and the College of Humanities at Exeter recently appointed her as Honorary Visiting Professor.
Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter said: “We congratulate Hilary on her stunning achievement of winning the Man Booker prize for the second time, and being the first woman and first Briton to do so. We were absolutely thrilled that the quality of Hilary’s writing has been so definitively recognised. All of us at the University of Exeter are delighted at her success and we are proud to count Hilary Mantel as one of our most distinguished Honorary Graduates and Visiting Professors.”
Speaking before the Man Booker prize was announced she acknowledged that winning again “would heap tremendous expectation onto the last book” but Hilary is an author who immerses herself in her book, living it as she creates it:
“I don’t think about other people’s opinions at that stage. I only think about the characters and the story,” she said.
That immersion promises to lead to an exciting conclusion to the trilogy, to satisfy her growing legion of fans.
“I think I can bring the trilogy home,” she said.
Date: 17 October 2012