Favourites do win the Man Booker Prize…. occasionally. The bookies’ favourite and long-time front-runner, Hilary Mantel, has won the £50,000 fiction prize for Wolf Hall. Many hotly tipped novels have fallen at the final hurdle in past years but Mantel has bucked the trend.
A richly historical novel, Wolf Hall is set in the 1520s and tells the story of Thomas Cromwell's rise to prominence in the Tudor court. Apparently, the author spent five years writing the book and she is already working on a sequel.
Literary heavyweights Sarah Waters, A.S. Byatt and J.M. Coetzee - who once again failed to even attend the event - were among the authors beaten by Mantel. Coetzee was going for a record-breaking third victory. Mantel was herself a Booker judge in 1990 when Byatt won with Possession.
Mantel is an established author but does not have a high profile even though her books have been published and praised since the mid-1980s. Born in Derbyshire, her first novel, Every Day is Mother's Day, was published in 1985. She had started writing in the 1970s. Her 2005 dark comedy novel, Beyond Black, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Mantel also has a memoir to her name, Giving Up the Ghost, published in 2003. She was made a CBE in 2006.
Demand already exists for signed copies of Wolf Hall – the novel was No.5 on AbeBooks’ bestselling signed books list for September.