Man Booker Prize won by Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies


Hilary Mantel was announced as the winner at London's Guildhall

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Hilary Mantel has won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for her novel Bring up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall, which won the prize in 2009.

Mantel is the first woman and the first living British author to win the prestigious literary prize twice.

"This double accolade is uniquely deserved," said Sir Peter Stothard, chairman of the judges.

The book is about Thomas Cromwell, an adviser to King Henry VIII, and charts the bloody downfall of Anne Boleyn.

It is the second book in a trilogy.

A third instalment, to be called The Mirror and the Light, will continue Cromwell's story until his execution in 1540.

Mantel was announced as the winner at London's Guildhall on Tuesday night.

Mantel's win also makes her the first person in Man Booker history to win the prize for a direct sequel. She is only the third double winner of the award, after JM Coetzee and Peter Carey.

Receiving her award, she joked: "You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize and two come along at once."

She added: "I know how privileged and lucky I am to be standing here tonight. I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence."

As well as the £50,000 cheque she also receives £2,500 for being shortlisted, along with the other five novelists in the race.

Sir Peter said that the judges had made their final decision on Tuesday after a "lengthy and forensic examination".

He said: "This is a very remarkable piece of English prose that transcends the work already written by a great English prose writer.

"This is a bloody story about the death of Anne Boleyn, but Hilary Mantel is a writer who thinks through the blood. She uses her power of prose to create moral ambiguity and the real uncertainty of political life."

He added: "She has recast the most essential period of our modern English history; we have the greatest modern English prose writer reviving possibly one of the best known pieces of English history.

"It is well-trodden territory with an inevitable outcome, and yet she is able to bring it to life as though for the first time."

Asked whether the book qualified as a thriller, Sir Peter referenced The Godfather: "You can see as much Don Corleone in this book as DH Lawrence."

Man Booker Prize - 2012 shortlist

  • Tan Twan Eng - The Garden of Evening Mists
  • Deborah Levy - Swimming Home
  • Hilary Mantel - Bring Up the Bodies
  • Alison Moore - The Lighthouse
  • Will Self - Umbrella
  • Jeet Thayil - Narcopolis

Mantel's latest work has been widely praised. The Telegraph noted its "descriptive immediacy", while Margaret Atwood wrote in the Guardian "literary invention does not fail her: she's as deft and verbally adroit as ever."

Jonathan Ruppin, web editor at Foyles bookshops, said: "Bring Up the Bodies has remained a strong seller since it was published in May, but this rare double Man Booker win confirms her output as essential reading.

"Mantel has been writing superb fiction for much longer than she has been winning major awards, so many readers will soon discover that she is their new favourite author. There's every possibility she might pull off a unique treble when she completes the trilogy."

The impact on sales for a Man Booker winner is considerable - every winning book since 1996 has grossed more than £1m.

Yan Martel's Life of Pi, which won in 2002, made just under £10m.

Last year's winner, Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending, has sold 300,000 copies so far.

According to the latest figures, Mantel's Bring up the Bodies has sold 108,342 copies, which is more than the other 11 Man Booker longlisted novels combined.

Mantel was previously longlisted in 2005 for Beyond Black. She was a judge for the prize in 1990 when AS Byatt won with Possession.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I was so much hoping that this time Deborah Levy or the lighthouse would win the booker prize. Nevertheless will now give a read to bring up the bodies'

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    I have not read any of her novels, will make a point too. But I'm bored with historical adventures, mysteries & adventures. Past 2 books I gave up, 100 pages of history I knew, then spiritual / cosmic / alien influence. Time to go to sleep. Best read recently was Aussie writer, evoked Victorian England, bodysnatchers. From page 1, I wanted to know the story, that's a real page turner.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Agree about the use of 'he' - it got me lost a few times at first, then when I was used to it I realised that it's part of what makes her writing so clever and so absorbing. Makes the dialogue and all 'his' reported thought more immediate - like having direct access to his brain instead of reading a page populated with 'Cromwell said', 'Cromwell thought that ...' etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I found her first book fascinating. It was a departure from my usual genre of reading and was enthralled by her rendition of, what is, a well-trodden tale. My only criticism is (and this may well be true of all great artists) that the content is far too complex for the common man/woman, making it more of an elitist writing than a novel that is 'up for grabs' for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I have read almost all the Booker winners of the last 20 years - Wolf Hall is the most disappointing by some way.
    It's not that Mantel doesn't write well in parts, far from it. The problem is that she seems to be having so much fun repeating "he", tying us in knots over who "he" is and when "he" entered the room (!) that it feels like pure self-indulgence.

    Or... Selfish Literary Masturbation.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Quite brilliant, both books. I doubt I would have read first if not as an E book, but could not put it down. Current winner is wonderful entertainment, but so, so, much more if one has read Wolf Hall. If it had not been for the New Yorker, which reviewed current winner an cited Wolf Hall, I doubt I would have come across these jewels. The New Yorker has a short bio' on Hilary in current edition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Congratulations to Hilary Mantel! I had never heard of the Man Booker prize until I was given Wolf Hall as a present many years ago. I admire her ability to write a historical novel without sliding into the romantic depictions of history that unfortunately plague many other "popular" books.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Hells bells who said anything about country of origin.I only said that the English language is of Indo European descent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Have they had the disabled and ethnic minority winners already? Okay, good, and now at last they've been able to ensure a woman gets it twice to be equal with the men. All is well in the.... fascinating.... world of awards and award ceremonies. Thrill a minute.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.


    Look perhaps I should explain myself to you all, the reason that I made the English / British comment is because, my dad is Welsh, Mums English and I was brought up believing in the Union, that is why even though I was born in Wales, the authors history is Anglo-Celtic like mine is another reason, here family came from Ireland, and Thomson her maiden name is Scottish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I've read too many disappointing Booker prize winning books over the years to care about which book wins it, or feel the award means very much.

    Best to wait and read reviews of the winning book before buying, I suspect.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    "As well as the £50,000 cheque she also receives £2,500 for being shortlisted, along with the other five novelists in the race." Odd event that gives the winner the "other five novelists" as part of the prize. Hmm.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    "Its official the Beeb have finally got of their collective Olympic high, and used the term “English” instead of “British”, oh the togetherness didn’t last did it?"

    What's this supposed to mean? Isn't Hilary Mantel English? If so, why shouldn't she be described as such? If Alasdair Gray or Iain Banks had won, would they not be described as Scottish?

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    re Matthew's disappointment at the BBC News description of Hilary mantel as "the greatest English prose writer" as opposed to "British"! I thought they meant " the greatest writer of English prose" as opposed to French prose, Gaelic prose and so on, just a thought!


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