17 Oct 2012

Mantel wins Man Booker prize for second time

8:15 pm on 17 October 2012

Hilary Mantel has become the first woman and the first British writer to win the prestigious Man Booker literary prize twice.

She won it for her novel Bring up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall, which won the prize in 2009.

The book - the second in a trilogy - is about Thomas Cromwell, an adviser to King Henry VIII, and charts the bloody downfall of Anne Boleyn. A third instalment, to be called The Mirror and the Light, will continue Cromwell's story until his execution in 1540, the BBC reports.

The judges' decision - announced at London's Guildhall on Tuesday night - also makes Mantel the first person in Man Booker history to win the prize for a direct sequel. She is only the third double winner of the award, after J M Coetzee and Peter Carey.

Receiving her award of nearly $100,000, she joked: "You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize and two come along at once."

She added: "I know how privileged and lucky I am to be standing here tonight. I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence."

'Greatest modern English prose writer'

The chair of the judging panel, Sir Peter Stothard, said the judges had made their final decision on Tuesday after a "lengthy and forensic examination".

"We have the greatest modern English prose writer reviving possibly one of the best-known pieces of English history," Sir Peter said.

"It is well-trodden territory with an inevitable outcome, and yet she is able to bring it to life as though for the first time."

The impact on sales for a Man Booker winner is considerable - every winning book since 1996 has grossed more than one million British pounds (nearly $2 million).