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 79.

    Congratulations to Hilary Mantel.
    'Wolf Hall' is a towering achievement.
    I appreciate it is a Marmite book.
    If you like an easy read, don't bother, you have to do a bit of work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    I tried to read 'Wolf Hall' and gave up. I personally think the best living
    UK writer is either Terry Pratchett, Ian Rankin or Philip Pullman

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Hilary Mantel was awarded an honorary doctorate at my daughter's graduation. Her speech reinforced my view that she is a truly extraordinary writer and person. The Cromwell books exhibit a superb combination of scholarship and verbal mastery. Anyone who hasn't read her books should do so. They are immediately accessible to anyone, not in the least elitist Jiminy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.


    I will be buying this book. . . . . My favourite part of British history :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    It worries me when authors paint themselves into stylistic corners....they write the same repetitious historical novels, crime novels...or I am gay therefore I always write about 'gay' issues....I hold to strong politi/social values or I'm of a non-European heritage so I always write about ...'my roots' or my beliefs etc.
    MANY styles.....yes
    Go to the edge.....and leap!

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I wonder how many of those criticising have actually read the book? Not many by the look of their coments. Its much more accessible than Wolf Hall (which I didn't enjoy) and a rollicking read. By all means have an opinion (it makes the world go around), but why start with a negative comment on a book you've never read?

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Inchindown, I agree with you,it's the same old story,I am an lifelong avid reader and I love anything set in the past.So why are these prize winning books usually so dry and boring ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    No mention of the great J G Farrell when talking about double winners or British winners with two Booker Prizes? I've seen no mention of him on any of the news websites. Surely one of the best British writers of the last 50 years needs more acknowledgement?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Surprise, surprise...
    Well, actually, not surprised at all. This expat checked how many copies of the short listed novels the libraries in three major cities had. Guess what: "Garden of Evening Mists": no English or translated copies available at all. The rest: one English copy - but for ... Clear who the winner was going to be. This contest is spiked. As for quality: Colin100 is right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    The Booker prize always seems to me to be the literary equivalent of the Turner prize. You get half a dozen of the most boring books in the world and get a few "Experts" to wax lyrical about them. It's all just like the artless exhibits for the Turner. People say they like then so as not to be seen as a moron who can't appreciate them. Go buy a decent book, not this rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Richly deserved.I've been a fan since A Place of Greater Safety.Superb author, so pleased she's finally getting due recogniton.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    I think the Booker nominations and another 'artistic' farce. But they do let us readers of absorbing adventures know what not to buy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Re 32

    Put McEwan alongside Roth! McEwan hasn't written a decent book in years. Overated

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Congratulations 2 Hilary I have not read your work,Yet,or 2 of the other Nominees, which I hope 2 achieve shortly, however cannot escape from "Umbrella" and "Narcopolis" which I find myself rereading for the third time! Disturbingly Addictive Tick

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Utter tosh. Her "Wolf Hall" is probably the most un-readable book I've ever encountered. The prose is astonishingly disjointed. I'm still "dipping in" to it after 3 years to try to finish it as her historical insight is most informative. I just wish she'd employed someone of greater skill to transcribe her research into a readable book. The only praise I can give Booker is NOT honouring Will Self.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Ah, something to comment on!
    Takes a very special skill to find so little to discuss, eh bbc.
    "Booker Prize"? Uhu ......

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    I read Wolf Hall and thought it was excellent. I am greatly looking forward to reading this sequel. But really, some of the purple prose used to describe this author is over the top. “A bloody good read by a bloody good author” is sufficient I’d have thought.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Hm. Haven't read this one but read the first and couldn't see what the fuss was about. A bit tedious, to be honest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    @52 I don't think you can have been "given Wolf Hall as a present many years ago." It was only published in 2009.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Is it racey?
    Ive been watching the debate.

    I dont think this is news,then again history or the future are hard too understand or equate...

    New and old world politics,lol


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