On 5th March 2020, 4th Estate will publish The Mirror and The Light, the final novel of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy.
With The Mirror & The Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.
Hilary Mantel on The Mirror and The Light:
‘When I began work on my Thomas Cromwell books back in 2005, I had high hopes, but it took time to feel out the full scope of the material. I didn’t know at first I would write a trilogy, but gradually I realised the richness and fascination of this extraordinary life. Since then I have been on a long journey, with the good companionship of archivists, artists, booksellers, librarians, actors, producers, and – most importantly – millions of readers through the world. I hope they will stay with me as we walk the last miles of Cromwell’s life, ascending to unprecedented riches and honour and abruptly descending to the scaffold at Tower Hill. This book has been the greatest challenge of my writing life, and the most rewarding; I hope and trust my readers will find it has been worth the wait.’
Nicholas Pearson, Publishing Director at 4th Estate comments:
‘When I first read the opening pages of Wolf Hall, I was drawn into history in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Hilary Mantel allows us to inhabit the past as it happens – we watch Cromwell and those in his orbit as their lives unfold, making decisions the consequences of which they cannot know. Readers around the world have relished this experience in the years since, both with that novel and its successor, Bring Up the Bodies. The Mirror & The Light is every bit as daring and thrilling as the novels which precede it. Completely immersive, as it charts the final years of Cromwell, it also casts a fresh light on the politics of power and the way we live now.’
Hilary Mantel’s literary agent Bill Hamilton of A M Heath says: ‘It is hugely exciting to see Hilary’s masterwork, written over 14 years, brought to its triumphant conclusion. This is a great literary landmark.’
‘If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?’
England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, before Jane dies giving birth to the male heir he most craves.
Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?
With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.
The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel is published on 5th March 2020.