Hilary Mantel (pictured) has been named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for her novel Wolf Hall, published by Fourth Estate.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel was picked from a shortlist of six titles. Authors A.S. Byatt, J.M. Coetzee, Adam Foulds, Simon Mawer and Sarah Waters were all shortlisted for this year’s prize.
Wolf Hall is set in the 1520s and tells the story of Thomas Cromwell’s rise to prominence in the Tudor court. Hilary Mantel has been praised by critics for writing ‘a rich, absorbingly readable historical novel; she has made a significant shift in the way any of her readers interested in English history will henceforward think about Thomas Cromwell.’
James Naughtie, Chair of the judges for this year’s prize, said “Hilary Mantel has given us a thoroughly modern novel set in the 16th century. Wolf Hall has a vast narrative sweep that gleams on every page with luminous and mesmerising detail. It probes the mysteries of power by examining and describing the meticulous dealings in Henry VIII’s court, revealing in thrilling prose how politics and history is made by men and women.”
“In the words of Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell, whose story this is, ‘the fate of peoples is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes.'”
This is the first time the publisher Fourth Estate has had a Man Booker Prize winner. They have previously published three shortlisted books – Nicola Barker’s Darkmans (2007) and Carol Shields’ novels Unless (2002) and The Stone Diaries (1993).
James Naughtie, made the announcement, which was broadcast by the BBC from the awards dinner at London’s Guildhall. Peter Clarke, Chief Executive of Man Group plc, presented Hilary Mantel with a cheque for £50,000.
Over and above her prize of £50,000, Hilary Mantel may expect a huge increase in sales and recognition worldwide. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer-bound edition of their book. This year, shortlisted authors will also receive a year’s membership to The Groucho Club in London.
The judging panel for the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was: broadcaster and author James Naughtie (Chair); Lucasta Miller, biographer and critic; Michael Prodger, Literary Editor of The Sunday Telegraph; Professor John Mullan, academic and author and Sue Perkins, comedian and broadcaster.
Sales related to the Man Booker Prize have been exceptionally strong this year. More than double the number of copies of books have been sold between longlist and shortlist announcement, and from shortlist announcement to winner announcement, compared to last year.
Hilary Mantel spent five years writing Wolf Hall and she is currently working on a sequel.