Hilary Mantel Talks About “Opening Up the Past” to See a New Side to Thomas Cromwell

Acclaimed novelist Hilary Mantel sat down last year with Channel 4 News to discuss how she “opened up the past” and allowed her readers to get a glimpse of a new side to the infamous historical figure of Thomas Cromwell.

She starts off by saying that whether you think that Cromwell’s a hero or a villain, he’s a huge part of Tudor history. He was the King’s “right-hand man,” however Mantel wanted to redefine him, not “rehabilitate him” or make him a sympathetic figure. Next, Mantel says that she wrote Cromwell to be ambiguous and admits that even she doesn’t know how she truly feels about his character. She wants the reader to make their own decisions about Cromwell and that’s why she leaves so many open-ended questions, even at the end of the novel.

Mantel’s interview is a unique look at the challenges facing historical fiction authors who decide to tackle such controversial characters and bring them back to life through their writing.

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