Mantel’s third Cromwell book wins Scott prize

Acclaimed author of historical fiction, Hilary Mantel, paid a visit to the Borders Book Festival at Abbotsford on Saturday to receive her £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for her book The Mirror and the Light.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 11:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 11:59 am
Hilary Mantel at Abbotsford. Photo: Lloyd Smith.
Hilary Mantel at Abbotsford. Photo: Lloyd Smith.

Mantel said: “I’m so happy 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. It launched the trilogy in fine style when the first volume Wolf Hall won the Walter Scott Prize, and now this rounds off the many years of effort.”

Mantel was also presented with a photograph of an iconic Borders landscape, taken by renowned photographer Walter Dalkeith.

Dame Hilary Mantel, Ide Crawford, Atlas Weyland Eden and Madeleine Friedlein. Photo: Lloyd Smith.

It is particularly fitting that Mantel – unrivalled in the art of writing historical fiction – should receive her award at Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott himself, in this 250th anniversary year of celebrations to commemorate the life of Scotland’s greatest storyteller.

While visiting the Borders Book Festival, Mantel also presented with their awards three of the four winners of the Young Walter Scott Prizes 2019 and 2020.

The Young Walter Scott Prize is a UK-wide historical writing prize for 11-19 year olds, now in its seventh year. The prize challenges young people to write a piece of short fiction set in a time before they were born, and entries are judged in two age groups – 11 to 15 years and 16 to 19 years.

The 2020 Young Walter Scott Prize winners were: Madeleine Friedlein for her Slaying Holofernes, inspired by the visual artist Artemisia Gentileschi’s painting Judith Slaying Holofernes; and Atlas Weyland Eden, whose We Wolves is set 35,000 years ago in the steppe of Central Europe on the eve of the next phase of human evolution.

One of the 2019 winners, Ide Crawford, whose prize-giving could not go ahead in 2020, also attended to collect her award for her story The Whale’s Way.

Hilary Mantel presented each of the winners with their travel grants of £500 and a signed copy of The Mirror and the Light. All winning and highly commended writers also see their work published in the special Young Walter Scott Prize anthology each year.