Wolf Hall author’s royal encounter

Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel, who once suggested the Duchess of Cambridge was a ”shop-window mannequin” with no personality, will be made a dame by the Prince of Wales today.

The writer, whose novels about the life of King Henry VIII’s adviser Thomas Cromwell have been critical and commercial hits, is to be honoured for services to literature at a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony.

Success has come late to the 62-year-old novelist, but she has more than made up for it by collecting a haul of literary honours including twice winning the Man Booker Prize.

Mantel caused a furore in February 2013 when she said the Duchess’ only purpose was to breed.

During a lecture at the British Museum, she said Kate appeared to have been ”gloss-varnished” with a perfect plastic smile in contrast to Diana, Princess of Wales, whom she described as awkward and emotionally incontinent.

She seemed to suggest that the ”painfully thin” Duchess was selected for her role because she posed no risk of showing any character.

The Derbyshire-born writer studied law at the London School of Economics and Sheffield University before becoming a social worker.

She has said her decision to be a writer was inspired by the end of her parents’ marriage and personal illness.

In an interview with Mslexia, she said: ”In my 20s I was in constant pain from undiagnosed endometriosis. With no prospect of a cure, I decided I needed a career – writing – that could accommodate being ill.”

So Mantel gave up her job and started writing the book that 15 years later would become her 1992 work, A Place Of Greater Safety.

That book, an epic but readable recreation of the personal and political lives of the leading lights of the French revolution, pointed the way for her later success with Thomas Cromwell.

Excerpts of a new book released last week revealed that the Prince of Wales’ household is so riddled with backstabbing and in-fighting it is nicknamed Wolf Hall in reference to the “treacherous and opportunistic world” depicted by Mantel.

Charles: The Heart Of A King, by Time magazine journalist Catherine Mayer, paints a picture of Clarence House as a household torn apart by turf wars.

Mantel lived for almost a decade in Botswana and Saudi Arabia before returning to Britain, and a writer’s life, in the 1980s.

Her work steadily increased in popularity and critical acclaim and she was awarded the CBE in 2006.

Last year she published a short story imagining the assassination of Margaret Thatcher.

Mantel lives in Budleigh Salterton on the Devon coast .

Also being recognised at the Palace is senior Tory MP Alan Duncan, who will receive his knighthood.

Young Vic artistic director David Lan will collect his CBE, while Scottish radio broadcaster Fiona Ritchie will receive an MBE.

Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

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