May 24, 2019

Single billboard heralds arrival of new Hilary Mantel novel


Earlier this week, a mysterious billboard appeared above an entrance to London’s Leicester Square Tube station.

It read, simply, SO NOW GET UP. And it featured a Tudor Rose in the centre. Pretty cryptic, right?

Not to those in the know.

First to spot it (or, tweet about it, at least) was Waterstones Piccadilly’s social media person, who captioned a picture of the billboard with:

Cromwell: heading for the end. ‘Portrait of Lord Chancellor Thomas Cromwell’, by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98-1543) [Wikimedia Commons, public domain]

Online speculation duly went into overdrive, with many heralding the marketing nous of unveiling the ad the day after the Game of Thrones finale—playing to the “what now?” feelings many fans of the show were experiencing.

Then, after a day or two of debate (with some even suggesting the ad’s West End location could in fact indicate a film or stage adaptation, rather than a book), Mantel’s publishers Fourth Estate Books confirmed the news Mantel fans had been waiting for:

“We can confirm that #TheMirrorandtheLight—the triumphant conclusion to Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy – will publish in March 2020.”

The announcement ends years of anticipation over the third instalment, which follows 2009’s Wolf Hall and 2012’s Bring Up the Bodies—the latter a book that earned Mantel the distinction of being the first woman to win the Booker Prize twiceWolf Hall was adapted for a critically-acclaimed BBC drama series in 2015, featuring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Claire Foy.

Meanwhile Alison Flood, reporting for the Guardian, outlines the events that will comprise The Mirror and the Light:The long-awaited novel will cover the final four years of Cromwell’s life, starting with Boleyn’s execution in 1536, and moving to his own execution for treason and heresy in 1540.”

With the tail end of 2019 already bulging with highly-anticipated new work from Margaret Atwood, John Le Carré and, er, David Cameron, it makes sense to give Mantel space in Spring 2020—really, what’s another few months to her loyal fans? After all, if the preceding two volumes are anything to go by, The Mirror and the Light will be worth the long wait.



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.