Hilary Mantel on Wolf Hall, Author Interview
And Wolf Hall writer Dame Hilary Mantel said she “might breathe easier in a republic” and “may be able to arrange it”. She also said Boris Johnson “should not be in public life”, described Priti Patel’s immigration rhetoric as “ugliest side of the new ‘global Britain’ post-Brexit”, and said the popularity of the monarchy “baffles” her.
Speaking to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Ms Mantel said: “I don’t want to think that people are naturally slavish, and actually enjoy inequality, though I understand that they prefer change to continuity.
“I might breathe easier in a republic, and may be able to arrange it.
“I hope to loop back into my family story and become an Irish citizen.”
Boris Johnson should not be in public life, claimed Dame Hilary Mantel
Home Secretary Priti Patel
She explained: “Our projected move has been held back by Covid, but much as I love where I live now, in the West Country, by the sea, I feel the need to be packing my bags, and to become a European again.”
Booker Prize winner Dame Hilary, 69, who grew up in Derbyshire, said she has been strongly influenced by her Irish ancestry.
She added: “My parents were both born in England, but the generation that shaped me was the one before that, and I was conscious of belonging to an Irish family.
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Hilary Mantel said she had met Boris Johnson on a number of occasions
“We were northern, working-class and Catholic, and to me, Englishness was Protestant and southern, and owned by people with more money.
“So when I began writing I imagined myself as a provincial writer, in the good sense, and as a European writer, rather than an English writer.”
Dame Hilary also described the United Kingdom as “an artificial and precarious construct”.
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Hilary Mantel was also critical of the UK’s response to migrants crossing the Channel
The Mirror and the Light, the final book in the Wolf Hall trilogy
She said: “It’s not holy, and it’s not even old. As a child I learned nothing about the history of other parts of these islands.
“Wales and Scotland were only mentioned when the English were fighting battles there; they were destined to be conquered, and added on to the more important territory, their complex histories dwindling into childish narratives consumed by tourists.
“I have always been alive to the way that the word ‘England’ is used to include the other nations, a habit that says everything about underlying attitudes.”
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Questioned about Mr Johnson, Ms Mantel said: “He has a much more complicated personality than the stereotyped ‘Brexiter/buffoon/etc’”.
She explained: “I have met him a number of times, in different settings.
“I agree he is a complex personality, but this much is simple – he should not be in public life. And I am sure he knows it.”
Wolf Hall Trailer (BBC Two)
With respect to migrants attempting to cross the Channel from France to the UK, she said: “We see the ugly face of contemporary Britain in the people on the beaches abusing exhausted refugees even as they scramble to the shore. It makes one ashamed.
“And ashamed, of course, to be living in the nation that elected this government, and allows itself to be led by it.
“Our present government sends mixed signals – boasting of ‘global Britain’, while at the same time diminishing the country’s standing by cutting foreign aid, as if this was a broken little country that couldn’t afford to keep its promises.”