Sunday, 26 April 2009

Book of the Week and bibliography - Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall is the tenth novel of Hilary Mantel, an English author of Irish ancestry. Mantel was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, England on 6 July 1952. She studied Law at the London School of Economics and Sheffield University. She was employed as a social worker, and lived in Botswana for five years, followed by four years in Saudi Arabia, before returning to Britain in the mid-1980s. Wolf Hall is a novel written from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, about a period about which most readers will know something, but told from an unconventional angle. It is a novel written by an author at the peak of her powers, and initial reviews are very positive.

“'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.' 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 and suffering and courage.”


Every Day is Mother's Day (Chatto & Windus, 1985)
Vacant Possession (Chatto & Windus, 1986)
Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (Viking, 1988)
Fludd (Viking, 1989)
A Place of Greater Safety (Viking, 1992)
A Change of Climate (Viking, 1994)
An Experiment in Love (Viking, 1995)
The Giant, O'Brien (Fourth Estate, 1998)
On Modern British Fiction (contributor: "No Passes or Documents Are Needed - the Writer at Home in Europe"; Oxford University Press, 2002)
Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir (Fourth Estate, 2003)
Learning to Talk: Short Stories (Fourth Estate, 2003)
Beyond Black (Fourth Estate, 2005)
Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate, 2009)


Anonymous said...

Hello, I have a question regarding Wolf Hall: is it known what the print run was for the 1st edition & 1st printing? Thanks in advance, best wishes, Alex

Trapnel said...

I don't know the answer to this, but I would guess at least 2000. Copies are still reaily available, though expensive. Simon Mawer's "The Glass Room" allegedly had a first print run of 2000 copies, and is considerably more difficult to find.

Anonymous said...

Good that I bought both copies when they were cheap then :-)

Anonymous said...

I recently bought a first edition and first printing of the book quite cheaply. The dust jacket, however, is a bit torn. I would like to know when (from which printing onwards)the publisher started to print "shortlisted for the man booker prize" on the dust jacket so that I could exchange the dj for a dj from a cheaper later printing. Thanks

Trapnel said...

I can't answer this for sure. The book was launched on 30/4/2009 and by the time of the shortlisting in September 2009 sales were about 15000. I guess the book would have been into a third or fourth printing at this stage, so the shortlist wording would have been added after that. The dustwrapper may have changed in other ways however - the first state has a single quotation from Diana Athill on the rear and on the rear flap a statement ending "Beyond Black, which was shortlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize".