Hilary Mantel has won the 2021 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for “The Mirror And The Light”, the final novel in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy.
The first of the trilogy, “Wolf Hall”, won the inaugural Walter Scott Prize in 2010.
She receives £25,000. She will also take part in a Borders Book Festival event later in the year to celebrate her win, and mark Walter Scott’s 250th anniversary.
What did the judges say?
“With ‘The Mirror And The Light’, Hilary Mantel has achieved the almost unachievable. She offers readers a novel that both closes a trilogy and also stands magnificently alone.
“With consummate technical skill married to the keenest ear for dialogue and the sharpest eye for rich and telling detail, Hilary Mantel resettles the reader at Thomas Cromwell’s shoulder for a psychodrama that begins and ends with a blade.
“The finale is both well-known and inevitable. And yet the suspense never fades. The book absorbs the reader into the particular drama, yet always alive to the universal themes.
“Through Mantel’s superb stitching and unstitching of Henry VIII’s shifting paranoias and Cromwell’s adroit manoeuvring,s we learn as much about power and politics today as about power and politics at the Tudor court.
“In 2010 Wolf Hall bowled the Walter Scott Prize judges clean over. This year, ‘The Mirror And The Light’ did the same.
“How lucky we are to live in the age of Hilary Mantel.”
Hilary Mantel said:
“When my publisher called to tell me I’d won the Walter Scott Prize, I was amazed and truly delighted.
“The Prize has brought great hope to writers of fiction about the past. It’s rewarded some interesting and distinguished books, and it’s helped the reading public see the variety and the strength of the discipline.
“I’m so happy personally that ‘The Mirror And The Light’ has won this recognition. It was certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
“I’d like to thank the judges for their faith in me. And I’d like to thank the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch for endowing this prize so generously and in a far-sighted way. It’s proved a great encouragement to my fellow writers, and a source of great pleasure to the reading public.’
An impressive shortlist
Mantel’s book beat a host of great novels to the prize. The shortlist also included:
- “The Tolstoy Estate” by Steven Conte
- “A Room Made Of Leaves” by Kate Grenville
- “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell
- “The Dictionary Of Lost Words” by Pip Williams
About the prize
The 2021 Walter Scott Prize judging panel comprised Elizabeth Buccleuch, James Holloway, Elizabeth Laird, James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark, and chair Katie Grant.
The Prize rewards the best fiction set sixty or more years ago. It is open to novels published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth.
The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch founded the prize to honour the achievements of Sir Walter Scott, considered to be the inventor of the historical novel, who was born in August 1771.
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