Hilary Mantel, for those of you who are not familiar with her work, is one of the finest writers of historical fiction in contemporary literature. She is best known for her novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both winners of the Man Booker prize.
She is currently working on a collection of short stories on Margaret Thatcher.
In an Amazon exclusive this is how she described her office:
My office is in my apartment on the East Devon coast. Before my desk there is a big window, and beyond that a shingle beach and the sea. On my large pine desk there’s just my laptop, my working papers, and my diary, plus a silver dial that tells the time in the world’s major cities. I have a mouse mat with the Holbein image of Thomas Cromwell on it; my husband magicked this up from somewhere. I keep my pens and markers in a china pot with a picture of Henry VIII, which came from the National Portrait Gallery in London. On my left there is a whiteboard which I use to plan each chapter as I write, and also to scribble down any fleeting thoughts; if I’m elsewhere in the apartment it’s the whiteboard I run to, to catch a phrase I’m afraid might slip away. I can write anywhere, though; I long ago learned to write and polish a paragraph in my head. And I do a lot of work in my notebooks when I’m travelling, shuttling up to London on the train. I write in the car too; in the passenger seat, I should add.
I can imagine Anne Boleyn sitting in that wonderful arm-chair while Hilary Mantel – as she wrote Bring Up The Bodies – dialogued with her about her feelings regarding her husband’s mistress and her upcoming executing.
Photographer: Eamonn McCabe
“A statute is written to entrap meaning, a poem to escape it.”
“Some readers read a book as if it were an instruction manual, expecting to understand everything first time, but of course when you write, you put into every sentence an overflow of meaning, and you create in every sentence as many resonances and double meanings and ambiguities as you can possibly pack in there, so that people can read it again and get something new each time.”
― Hilary Mantel