England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey’s clerk, and later his successor.
Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.
From one of our finest living writers, ‘Wolf Hall’ is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion, suffering and courage.
It was not until 2012, that the long awaited second part of the trilogy, ‘Bring Up The Bodies’, was published, once more to great acclaim. As some recognition of the international acclaim which Hilary enjoys, ‘Bring Up The Bodies’ has been nominated and shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, with the winner being announced in October 2012.
By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.
In ‘Bring up the Bodies’, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning ‘Wolf Hall’, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. This Man Booker-longlisted novel is a speaking picture, an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world. It is the work of one of our great writers at the height of her powers.
This ambitious series, which tells the fictionalised account of Thomas Cromwell’s rise and fall in the English Tudor Court, has propelled Hilary to international reknown and onto the bestselling lists worldwide.
To coincide with the announcement of Hilary’s 2012 Booker Prize nomination, it has now been announced that both of the first two books in the trilogy, are to be adapted for the small screen and broadcast by the BBC.
The books are being adapted by Peter Straughan who co-wrote the 2011 film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, with the six-part series expected to be broadcast late in 2013.
BBC 2 controller Janice Hadlow issued a statement, in which she said that the channel was “very fortunate” to have the rights to the two novels.
Hilary Mantel also revealed in November 2011, that she already has plans for the third instalment in the trilogy, which is to be called ‘The Mirror and the Light’ and will continue Cromwell’s story until his execution in 1540.
This is surely a television series, not to be missed, by all the fans of English Tudor History and anyone who has read and enjoyed these fantastic books as a work of historical fiction.
Also, given that the series is to air on the BBC, it might surely also afford the opportunity for some of you who live outside of the UK to enjoy the series as much as I am sure I shall.