• ‘Mind what gap?’: an interview with Hilary Mantel

      Pollard, Eileen J.; Manchester Metropolitan University (Routledge, 2015-04-02)
      Hilary Mantel is a contemporary British writer who has published eleven novels, one memoir and two collections of short stories. A relatively unknown and under-researched author, she shot to fame in 2009 by winning the Booker Prize for her historical novel Wolf Hall – an intelligently sensitive account of Thomas Cromwell’s spectacular rise from black- smith’s son to right-hand man of Henry VIII. I interviewed Mantel at her Devon home in September 2012, just one month prior to her making literary history by winning the Booker Prize for a second time for her follow-up to Wolf Hall. This staggering achievement made her the first woman to win the prize twice, the first British author to gain a double, with Bring Up the Bodies becoming the first sequel to ever receive the award. She remarked on accepting the prize: ‘Well I don’t know, you wait twenty years for a Booker Prize . . . Two come along at once!’ A characteristically humorous and self-deprecating response that she qualified by saying she had no expectations of standing at the podium for a third time when the final instalment of her Tudor trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, is published. We pursued an engaging, vivid and wide-ranging conversation in the sitting room of her top floor flat, which overlooks the bay. Mantel and I discussed her roots in the Derbyshire village of Hadfield where I also grew up and where there is now a blue plaque marking her childhood home. In particular, we considered the figure of the ellipsis, since the ambiguities inherent to elliptical thinking seem so to suit the uncertain bases of her writing, as I hope this interview helps to illustrate.