Before dying, author Hilary Mantel had been working on a ‘mashup’ of Jane Austin’s novels.
At the memorial service for The Wolf Hall trilogy author, literary agent, Bill Hamilton, told mourners of Mantel’s aim to give Austin’s works a rebirth. Although not entirely clear what her plans were, Hamilton said that she was “having the greatest fun dissecting a literary icon.”
Mantel was a writer that received both critical and commercial acclaim and was known for her ability to write fully-formed characters and weave complex, yet compelling, plots.
The service to celebrate her life took place in Southwark Cathedral after the writer unexpectedly died from a stroke at her home in Devon aged 70. As well as completing various works of literature, she was also planning a move to Ireland at the time of her death.
The service included readings, film, and music chosen by her friends and family to celebrate her life.
Actor Aurora Dawson-Hume read an excerpt of the unfinished novel Provocation, which Mantel was also working on at the time of her death. The Guardian has published an extract from this novel in its Saturday magazine.
Award-winning actor Mark Rylance, who played Thomas Cromwell in the television series adaptation, read an extract from Wolf Hall.
Charlie Redmayne, chief executive of HarperCollins also spoke of Mantel’s kindness to aspiring authors. He described her as “a mentor to many” who was “hugely supportive of fellow writers.”
Actor Ben Miles echoed that view, stating that actors also hung on her every word. He said: “I saw actors reduced to tears of joy as a consequence of Hilary’s perfectly timed and exquisitely phrased offers of praise.”