Hilary Mantel

Can these bones live?

BBC Radio 4  – The Reith lectures A few years back, before I began writing novels about the Tudors, my partner and I bought a new-build house in Surrey. We bought it off-plan, and watched it grow out of an open field. The site looked like a battlefield from the Great War. It was a

Last Morning in Al Hamra – Shiva Naipaul Prize, 1987

The Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing was first awarded in 1987, and its first-ever winner was Hilary Mantel, who has since won the 2009 Booker Prize for Wolf Hall. Below is Hilary’s prize-winning piece on Saudi Arabia; the judges ‘particularly admired her ability to convey not only the discovery of a culture

Portrait of a marriage

In her foreword to Elizabeth Jenkins’s 1954 classic, The Tortoise and the Hare, Hilary Mantel reminds us of the unaccountability of love Apart from a war, what could be more interesting than a marriage? A love affair, though it is one of the central concerns of fiction, is a self-limiting tactical skirmish, but a marriage

The last of the vintage wine

When Sybille Bedford was born, in Germany in 1911, it was into a world already vanishing: a world where ‘people were ruled by their servants’, lived in opulent houses (fully staffed by their rulers), ate heavy Edwardian-Germanic cuisine at very frequent intervals, took nothing so vulgar as holidays, but went south for their health, or