Hilary Mantel: ‘Being a novelist is no fun. But fun isn’t high on my list’

Hilary Mantel: ‘Being a novelist is no fun. But fun isn’t high on my list’

October 4, 2020

The Booker prize-winning novelist answers questions from famous admirers and readers on Thomas Cromwell, ghosts and her writing process

As soon as the third volume of her Wolf Hall trilogy was out in the world, Hilary Mantel returned to her Devon study to give The Mirror and the Light a new life as a play, in a remote script-writing partnership with actor Ben Miles. The first reading is due to take place this week, but, without being able to meet face to face, it’s been a long haul, she says. They’ve collaborated by email, “so we have had to be very good clerks to each other”.

Decades before Mantel became one of the world’s best-known novelists, she combined the hard and penurious graft of fiction with the relatively easy rewards of life as a literary hack. “I have no critical training whatsoever so I am forced to be more brisk and breezy than scholarly,” she wrote to Karl Miller, editor of the London Review of Books, in 1987.

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