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 119.

    Both Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are superb books, exquisitely written and real page-turners. They are certainly not inaccessible; especially not when compared to other Booker nominees and, indeed, some prizewinners. Prizes are a bit daft, but very well done to her for such a terrific achievement. Looking forward so much to The Mirror and The Light.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    I loved "Beyond Black"; I still think that is her best novel. I really admire the person who persists and succeeds, as she has. It should be a lesson to us all, no matter what field we are in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Sorry, my post should have read To Kill a Mocking Bird is a great book. Sincere apologies, age catches up with one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Never heard of the wumin! a colleague just remarked about one of her other literary works...'BOUGHT IT 2 MONTHS AGO' still only a 1/4 through it.....frightfully, appaling! Personally give me John Grisham any day.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Whenevr the subject of women authors arises I always think of Bob Dylan's 'Highlands' song. Dylan chats with a waitress as follows.
    " She said 'you don't read women authors do you?'
    I said, 'you're way wrong'
    She said 'which ones have you read then?
    I said 'I've read Erica Jong' "

    Don't leap to the negative button; I don't share the implied sarcasm. The Catcher in The Rye is a great book.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Speaking as the common woman with no history qualifications at all, I can grasp it, it is not far too complex, it is emminently well written, enthralling, entertaing and so far above the usual historical fiction that it should be accoladed. I may be common, even as common as Cromwell himself but I can read!

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    I gave up on Wolf Hall when the lack of punctuation made it impossible to tell who was saying what and to whom. I felt badly let down by an author who appeared to have forgotton that the most important person to think about when writing is the reader. What I read of Wolf Hall told me more about Hilary Mantel than it did about Thomas Cromwell. I'll stick with Matthew Shardlake.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Well done Hilary Mantel. Much deserved. I am anxiously waiting for my husband to finish Bring Up the Bodies so I can read it. Wolf Hall was brilliant and I was totally immersed. She has written such a range of books. Her language is always flawless and she also has great humour and wonderful imagination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I tried to read both Wolf Hall and the one about the French Revolution. Good luck to the authoress but they were not for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Rewriting history, or embroidering it ? I'll pass on this one thanks. Congrats to her though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    I read "Wolf Hall" and was very disappointed. There were no wolves in it at all ! If you want a good story about wolves, try "Call Of The Wild" by Jack London.
    Maybe "Bring up the Bodies" will be better - I love zombie stories...
    It will have to be good to top "Herbert West - Reanimator" by H.P. Lovecraft though...

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Who is this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    I find Hilary M antel's forays into Tudor England with twenty first century English conversational usage and manners to be patronising to readers. Her dialogue seems very stilted. More like Georgette Heyer or Forester's Hornblower than the real thing. After Joyce, Woolf and even Evelyn Waugh this looks a step backward in the novel. Don't worry. fans. It will sell!

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    The increasing high brow, feminization of UK publishing is having a detrimental effect at the ‘bottom end’ of the market with teachers finding it increasingly difficult to engage boys in reading. If it were any other group being disenfranchised there’d be much soul searching, but working class boys have very few literary champions except a few minor players who deserve far more exposure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    bbc permits discussion on nonesnse stories such as this, yet does not permit discussion of Scotland's future or unemployment.

    C McK

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    perhaps the government should get a prize for reducing unemployment by 50,000 in the summer while hosting the Olympics lets hope it gets better for Christmas and dose not fall back in january

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Hilary Mantel? Or Hilary Clinton?

    Spitting Image.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I don't know why I bother reading the comments on the BBC sometimes. There is without fail always a handful of whingers wittering on about what constitutes 'real news'.

    A Special mention today to the poster complaining that a woman won the 'Man' Booker prize. Man is an investment group and the sponsor of the prize. Please do some basic research before spouting your utter nonsense!

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    people who post on here do not be angry that you want a voice on an important issues like the 2.3 million unemployed or anything else which can be defined as real news this lady wrote a book someone read it and said its good she deserves a prize and so she got one well done my 6 year old got a certificate this morning could we have some comments on that great achievement

  • Comment number 100.

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


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