Hilary Mantel’s immense legacy, “riotous sense of humour” and generosity to other writers have been celebrated at a memorial service in honour of the late author.
Mantel, the author of 17 acclaimed books including the Wolf Hall trilogy – two books of which won the Booker Prize, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, died aged 70 in September 2022.
Speakers at the packed service at Southwark Cathedral on 20th April included HarperCollins c.e.o. Charlie Redmayne, A M Heath’s Bill Hamilton, Mantel’s long-time literary agent, and Nicholas Pearson, her editor. Authors Zadie Smith, Sarah Waters and Anne Enright gave readings from Mantel’s work, and a fragment of the novel she had been working on before her death, Provocation, inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice told from the perspective of Mary Bennett.
In his welcome remarks, Redmayne said it had been HC’s privilege to publish Mantel’s work for the past 24 years, and that it was “wonderful” to see so many in attendance to remember Mantel “and what she meant to us, both as an incredible, one of a kind writer, and also individually, as a wife, sister, friend, colleague or peer”.
He added that it was fitting that, alongside her family and friends and those who worked with her on her books, stage and screen adaptations, there were “many among us who only knew her through her words, but who also felt compelled to come here today to pay their respects”.
“Aside from being one of the greatest writers that ever lived, Hilary was also a champion of the arts, she was generous with her time, and a mentor to many people, and also hugely supportive of other writers,” Redmayne said, a side of her “appropriately represented” by the children’s charity, Scene and Heard, of which Mantel was a patron and which attendees of the service were encouraged to support.
In a moving tribute, Mantel’s lifelong friend Anne Preston described her as “kind and funny, fierce and full of self-belief” and “a consummate craftsman and weaver of spells”, while her brother Brian Mantel, in a statement read by actor Ben Miles, said: “For Hilary, words were as a piano to Mozart. [She] engraved her legacy in mighty tablets of stone.”
Link to the rest at The Bookseller