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Winner of Walter Scott historical fiction prize revealed

Dame Hilary Mantel (Yui Mok/PA)
Dame Hilary Mantel (Yui Mok/PA)

Dame Hilary Mantel has won the 2021 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for The Mirror And The Light.

The book, which is part of a trilogy of novels about Thomas Cromwell, has won the prize 11 years after Wolf Hall, the first book in the series, was given the inaugural award.

In addition to the prize, Dame Hilary receives £25,000.

Hilary Mantel book preview
(Yui Mok/PA)

She said: “When my publisher called to tell me I’d won the Walter Scott Prize, I was amazed and truly delighted.

“The prize has brought great hope to writers of fiction about the past.

“It’s rewarded some interesting and distinguished books, and it’s helped the reading public see the variety and the strength of the discipline.

“I’m so happy personally that The Mirror And The Light has won this recognition.

“It was certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I know the author isn’t always the best person to judge, but it seems to me to be the strongest of my trilogy of novels about Thomas Cromwell.”

Dame Hilary’s book saw off competition from four shortlisted books to claim the prize.

Hilary Mantel book reading
(Ian West/PA)

The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte, Kate Grenville’s A Room Made Of Leaves, Maggie O’Farrell’s novel Hamnet and The Dictionary Of Lost Words by Pip Williams missed out on the award.

A statement from the judges said: “With The Mirror And The Light, Hilary Mantel has achieved the almost unachievable: she offers readers a novel that both closes a trilogy and also stands magnificently alone.

“With consummate technical skill married to the keenest ear for dialogue and the sharpest eye for rich and telling detail, Hilary Mantel resettles the reader at Thomas Cromwell’s shoulder for a psychodrama that begins and ends with a blade.

“The finale is both well-known and inevitable and yet – as the judges long pondered with astonished admiration – the suspense never fades.”

Last year Dame Hilary missed out on becoming a triple winner of the Booker Prize after The Mirror And The Light became the first book in the series not to win the literary award.

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