Author(s): Hilary Mantel
A new, revised edition for the London transfer of Mike Poulton's expertly adapted two-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel's hugely acclaimed novels, featuring a substantial set of character notes by Hilary Mantel. Mike Poulton's 'expertly adapted' (Evening Standard) two-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel's acclaimed novels 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring Up the Bodies' is a gripping piece of narrative theatre ... history made manifest' (Guardian). The plays were premiered to great acclaim by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2013, before transferring to the Aldwych Theatre in London's West End in May 2014. 'Wolf Hall' begins in England in 1527. Henry has been King for almost twenty years and is desperate for a male heir; but Cardinal Wolsey is unable to deliver the divorce he craves. Yet for a man with the right talents this crisis could be an opportunity. Thomas Cromwell is a commoner who has risen in Wolsey's household - and he will stop at nothing to secure the King's desires and advance his own ambitions. In 'Bring Up the Bodies', the volatile Anne Boleyn is now Queen, her career seemingly entwined with that of Cromwell. But when the King begins to fall in love with self-effacing Jane Seymour, the ever-pragmatic Cromwell must negotiate within an increasingly perilous Court to satisfy Henry, defend the nation and, above all, to secure his own rise in the world. Hilary Mantel's novels are the most formidable literary achievements of recent times, both recipients of the Man Booker Prize. This volume contains both plays and a substantial set of notes by Hilary Mantel on each of the principal characters, offering a unique insight into the adaptations and an invaluable resource to any theatre companies wishing to stage them.
Review from our January Newsletter: It will come as no surprise to learn that the Tudor period in English history (1485 to 1603) is today not only the most popular period but also the most studied – and by extension - the most interesting of all the dynastic reigns in that country's long and bloody history. One reason for this popularity is that the Tudor kings and queens represented the origin of a legacy; modern government.
After the Reformation and the (English) Renaissance, the 16th century can be viewed as a distant mirror. Church and state were finally separated and the rapid rise in literacy meant, among other things, a surfeit of well educated lawyers in the parliament. Much of the legislation passed into law then is still with us today. Thomas Cromwell, the subject of this novel, was one of the brains driving this legislation. To her credit, the author does not bore us with the minutiae of law, rather she gives us a compelling description of the man as; '...like one of those square-shaped fighting dogs that low men tow about on ropes.' Elsewhere, Simon Schama describes him as '… A bully. A jumped-up, inky-fingered legislator, a cleverdick'. Whatever, Thomas Cromwell was a force to be reckoned with. Treated sympathetically here, Cromwell, along with Bishop Cranmer is credited with both paving the way (in law) for Henry to marry Anne Boleyn - and then conspiring against her when she did not produce a male heir. As history Wolf Hall succeeds on it's own terms; an obvious depth of research, but one which is carried lightly on the page. As a novel, it is a story about power and how only the most nimble and daring mind can hold on to it - And even then, only for the briefest time. Most of all it is a tribute to the author, herself trained in the law, that the reader finishes this 650 page book wanting more.
Winner of Spear's Book Awards: Novel of the Year 2009 and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009 and Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2010 and Independent Booksellers' Book of the Year Award: Adults' Book of the Year 2010 and Galaxy National Book Awards: Waterstone's UK Author of the Year 2010. Shortlisted for Orange Prize for Fiction 2010
'This is a beautiful and profoundly human book, a dark mirror held up to our own world. And the fact that its conclusion takes place after the curtain has fallen only proves that Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as our most brilliant writers.' Olivia Laing, Observer 'As soon as I opened the book I was gripped. I read it almost non-stop. When I did have to put it down, I was full of regret that the story was over, a regret I still feel. This is a wonderful and intelligently imagined retelling of a familiar tale from an unfamiliar angle.' The Times 'Mantel is a writer who sees the skull beneath the skin, the worm in the bud, the child abuse in the suburbs and the rat in the mattress! Turning her attention to Tudor England, she makes that world at once so concrete you can smell the rain-drenched wool cloaks! This is a splendidly ambitious book! I wait greedily for the sequel, but Wolf Hall is already a feast.' Daily Telegraph 'A compelling and humane investigation of the cost of ambition.' Guardian 'Mantel's ability to pick out vivid scenes from sources and give them life within her fiction is quite exceptional! Vividly alive.' London Review of Book' 'A stunning book. It breaks free of what the novel has become nowadays. I can't think of anything since Middlemarch; which so convincingly builds a world.'Diana Athill 'Over two decades, [Mantel] has gained a reputation as an elegant anatomiser of malevolence and cruelty! Hers are books that refuse to shy away from the underside of life. It is that supple movement between laughter and horror that makes this rich pageant of Tudor life her most humane and bewitching novel! She provides a masterclass in the tragic arc of ascent and decline! Cromwell, who dreams of a nation that can talk and learn and worship freely, is revealed as the true author of England's independence! This tattered yarn has been spectaculary rewoven! This is a beautiful and profoundly human book, a dark mirror held up to our own world. And the fact that its conclusion takes place after the curtain has fallen only proves that Hilary Mantel is one of our bravest as well as our most brilliant writers.' Olivia Laing, Observer 'A magnificent achievement: the scale of its vision and the fine stitching of its detail; the teeming canvas of characters; the style with its clipped but powerful immediacy; the wit, the poetry and the nuance.' Sarah Dunant
'A fascinating read, so good I rationed myself. It is remarkable and very learned; the texture is marvellously rich, the feel of Tudor London and the growing household of a man on the rise marvellously authentic. Characters real and imagined spring to life, from the childish and petulant King to Thomas Wolsey's jester, and it captures the extrovert, confident, violent mood of the age wonderfully.' C.J. Sansom
'A superb novel, beautifully constructed, and an absolutely compelling read. Mantel has created a novel of Tudor times which persuades us that we are there, at that moment, hungry to know what happens next. It is the making of our English world, and who can fail to be stirred by it?' Helen Dunmore
'With her brilliant new book, Hilary Mantel has not just written a rich, absorbingly readable historical novel; she has made a significant shift in the way any of her readers interested in English history will henceforward think about Thomas Cromwell! There is historical truth and there is imaginative truth. Hilary Mantel, who has never written better than in this book, respects both.' Anne Chisholm, The Spectator
'A fine new novel.' Harpers Bazaar
'Superb new novel! A second volume is apparently planned; I await it with all the serenity of Henry VIII outside Anne Boleyn's bedroom door.' Book of The Week 5/6 stars Nina Caplan, Time Out
'The novel becomes a play, becomes a gallery, conscious of its own framing devices, and is all the richer for being a historiographical as well as a historical novel.' Michael Caines, TLS
Hilary Mantel is one of our most important living writers. She is the author of eleven books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Giving Up the Ghostand; Beyond Black , which was shortlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize.