Entertainment & Arts

Mumford and Sons 'lift' line from Hilary Mantel novel

Mumford and Sons
Image caption Mumford and Sons took the name of their debut album from a Shakespeare play

Mumford and Sons have revealed that a song on their forthcoming album, Babel, features a line "lifted completely" from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall.

The band's frontman, Marcus Mumford, admitted to being inspired by the Man Booker Prize-winning novel in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Front Row.

He said it was "definitely" a line spoken by central character Thomas Cromwell, but chose not to elaborate.

"I'm not going to tell you which, because I think it might be illegal."

As well as Mantel's Wolf Hall - a fictional account of Henry VIII's chief minister, Cromwell, as he helped to engineer the King's second marriage to Anne Boleyn - Mumford and Sons have previously spoken about being influenced by writers such as John Steinbeck, and other literary figures.

Their Brit Award-winning debut album Sigh No More took its name from the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing.

The title track opens with the lyrics, "serve God, love me and mend", as spoken by Benedick in the play.

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Media captionMarcus Mumford: "There's a line that I lifted completely from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall."

When it comes to the literary influences on Babel, due out on 24 September, Mumford said the album features "too many to count".

"Honestly, they appear everywhere," said the singer, songwriter and guitarist.

"But I don't think that's a unique thing for us as a band. You just have to listen to Bob Dylan to realise that's what people do when they write songs," he continued." Or even the old spirituals, and the old blues guys.

"A lot of the time writers are just sponges... for what's around them, and so books are helpful for focusing your mind and literally putting it into words."

Despite being open about their influences, he denied Mumford and Sons are any more well-read than their contemporaries.

"We don't consider ourselves more of a literary band than any other band, you know. Every band reads," said Mumford.

He did, however, launch a book club for fans as part of the Mumford and Sons' website.

"That was because we wanted to engage with people who liked our music in some way online - without doing Twitter and telling them that we're in the bath or watching TV," Mumford explained.

"We didn't really want to give people access to our personal lives like that. But we also wanted to engage in an interesting way with people who wanted to talk with us."

Image caption Hilary Mantel is nominated for the Man Booker Prize again this year, after Wolf Hall won in 2009

Mantel's follow-up to Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies, is currently on the shortlist for this year's Booker Prize, with the winner due to be announced on 16 October.

Mumford said he has already finished reading the sequel, but as far as plundering the lyrics go, he told Front Row: "No, not yet!"

Front Row's full interview with Marcus Mumford will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 2 October.

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