Double Booker Prize winner Dame Hilary Mantel, author of the epic Wolf Hall trilogy, has died aged 70.
In a statement, her publisher 4th Estate books said: “We are heartbroken at the death of our beloved author, Dame Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband, Gerald.
“This is a devastating loss and we can only be grateful she left us with such a magnificent body of work.”
The British writer won the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies.
The conclusion to the trilogy, Mirror and the Light, was published in 2020. It was an instant number one fiction best-seller and longlisted for Booker Prize the same year, winning the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, which she first won for Wolf Hall.
The trilogy, which charts the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of King Henry VIII, has been translated into 41 languages, with sales of more than five million worldwide.
The first two books were adapted for the BBC and broadcast on BBC Two in January 2015, earning huge critical acclaim.
The six-part series, directed by Peter Kosminsky, starred Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn.
At the 2016 TV BAFTAs, it won best drama series, while Rylance picked up the award for best actor. At the Golden Globes the same year, it was named best mini-series.
Paying tribute, publishers HarperCollins described Dame Hilary as “one of the greatest English novelists of this century”.
“Her beloved works are considered modern classics. She will be greatly missed.”
Bill Hamilton, Dame Hilary’s agent at literary agency A.M. Heath, said it had been the “greatest privilege” to work with her throughout her career, adding she would also be remembered for “her capacity to electrify a live audience”.
He said: “Her wit, stylistic daring, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight mark her out as one of the greatest novelists of our time.”
“Emails from Hilary were sprinkled with bon mots and jokes as she observed the world with relish and pounced on the lazy or absurd and nailed cruelty and prejudice,” he said.
“There was always a slight aura of otherworldliness about her, as she saw and felt things us ordinary mortals missed, but when she perceived the need for confrontation she would fearlessly go into battle.
“And all of that against the backdrop of chronic health problems, which she dealt with so stoically. We will miss her immeasurably, but as a shining light for writers and readers she leaves an extraordinary legacy. Our thoughts go out to her beloved husband Gerald, family and friends,” he added.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling shared a tweet from 4th Estate Books announcing Mantel’s death, writing “We’ve lost a genius.”