Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies offers a new side to Thomas Cromwell, who is often made out to be the villain in previous Tudor dramas. Most Tudors fans, especially if they are on Team Anne Boleyn, absolutely loathe Thomas Cromwell, mainly because he helped King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour’s faction to legally murder the king’s second wife. However, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies gives a new look at King Henry VIII’s infamous councilor and offers another take on the ambitious politician.
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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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