Mantel makes history with second Booker fiction prize

Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:52pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Hilary Mantel wrote herself into the history books on Tuesday, becoming the first woman and first Briton to win the coveted Man Booker prize for fiction twice with "Bring Up the Bodies", the sequel to her acclaimed "Wolf Hall".

Two men had previously "done the double" - J.M. Coetzee who was born in South Africa and Australia's Peter Carey.

Chair of judges Peter Stothard described Mantel as the "greatest modern English prose writer" and told reporters she had rewritten the art of historical fiction.

Wolf Hall, her re-imagining of the rise of blacksmith's son Thomas Cromwell to the pinnacle of power in King Henry VIII's court, won the 50,000 pound ($80,000) prize in 2009.

Bring Up the Bodies, published by HarperCollins imprint Fourth Estate, picks up the action in 1535 with Anne Boleyn's spectacular fall from grace and execution the following year.

"Well, I don't know, you wait 20 years for a Booker prize and two come along at once," Mantel joked as she accepted her award in the medieval splendor of the Guildhall banqueting hall in central London.

There could yet be a third Booker prize for Mantel. The final part of her epic trilogy, called "The Mirror and the Light", is expected to hit shelves in 2015.

"I have to go away and write the third part of the trilogy. I assure you I have no expectation that I will be standing here (again)," she told an audience of fellow nominees, publishing executives and London's literati.   Continued...

Author Hilary Mantel poses with her book "Bring up the Bodies", after winning the 2012 Man Booker Prize, at the Guildhall in London October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor