As the third part of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy hits the stage, the writer talks about the perils of political powerplay, fleeing Brexit to Ireland and setting her next novel in more recent times
As the author of 12 globally successful novels, of which Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies both won the Booker prize, Hilary Mantel seems an unlikely person to conclude that she picked the wrong business. But in a theatre rehearsal room in London, she says: “The thing is, I now know that I should have been doing this all my life.”
Her new love is playwriting. During lockdowns, she wrote the script of The Mirror and the Light – the 2020 novel that concluded the Tudor trilogy begun by her two Booker winners. Her co-author, swapping versions by email, was Ben Miles, who also plays Thomas Cromwell, the focal point of Mantel’s stories, as he did in the RSC double-bill of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, which ran in Stratford-on-Avon, London and on Broadway from 2014-15. The first two were written by Mike Poulton but, as the productions developed, Mantel took increasing interest.