Celebrated British author Hilary Mantel died Thursday at age 70, her agent and publisher said in a joint statement Friday.
Mantel won the U.K.’s prestigious Man Booker Prize, now just called the Booker Prize, twice. She scored the award in 2009 for “Wolf Hall” and then in 2013 for “Bring Up the Bodies” — the first two books in a trilogy about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII.
Her latest work, “The Mirror and the Light,” released in 2020 as the final volume in the trilogy, was longlisted for the same award.
“It is with great sadness that A.M. Heath and HarperCollins announce that bestselling author Dame Hilary Mantel DBE died suddenly yet peacefully yesterday, surrounded by close family and friends,” the statement from her agent and publisher read.
“Hilary Mantel was one of the greatest English novelists of this century and her beloved works are considered modern classics. She will be greatly missed,” the statement added.
A cause of death has not yet been revealed, but in an interview with the Financial Times published earlier this month, Mantel said that her “health is unpredictable and a daily source of tension. But I am always looking for improvement.”
In her 2003 memoir “Giving Up the Ghost,” Mantel wrote about her lifelong struggle with endometriosis, a gynecological condition that left her unable to have children.
“We are heartbroken at the death of our beloved author, Dame Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband, Gerald,” HarperCollins U.K. tweeted Friday. “This is a devastating loss and we can only be grateful she left us with such a magnificent body of work.”
Born in Glossop, near Manchester, England in 1952, Mantel studied law at the London School of Economics and Sheffield University. She was employed as a social worker and lived in Botswana and Saudi Arabia before returning to Britain in the mid-1980s.
Mantel, who married geologist Gerald McEwen in September 1972, went on to publish 17 “acclaimed books,” according to her agent.
The first two books in the “Wolf Hall” trilogy were turned into an award-winning BBC drama that premiered in 2015. The six-part series was directed by Peter Kosminsky and featured a cast that included Damian Lewis, Claire Foy, Tom Holland and Jonathan Pryce.
Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins U.K., wrote about the “terrible, tragic news,” calling Mantel “a writer to the core,” and “one of the greatest of her generation, of the age — a serious, fearless novelist with huge empathy for her subjects.”