Literary luminaries, politicians and journalists paid tribute to the author Hilary Mantel after the announcement of her death, lamenting the loss of a “genius”.
Bernardine Evaristo, like Mantel a Booker prize-winning author, described her as “warm, down to earth and welcoming”. She wrote: “So very sorry to hear about Hilary Mantel’s passing. We were so lucky to have such a massive talent in our midst.”
JK Rowling reacted to the news on Twitter, writing: “We’ve lost a genius.”
Nicola Sturgeon also paid tribute to the author, who died on Thursday aged 70. “Such terribly sad news,” wrote Scotland’s first minister. “It is impossible to overstate the significance of the literary legacy Hilary Mantel leaves behind. Her brilliant Wolf Hall trilogy was the crowning achievement in an outstanding body of work. Rest in peace.”
The Royal Society of Literature described Mantel as “a much-loved and admired fellow of the RSL, a vice-president and companion of literature”. In a statement, the RSL said: “We know the society will miss her a great deal, and are all thinking of her family and friends.”
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, published this month, when asked if she believed in an afterlife, Mantel poignantly said: “Yes. I can’t imagine how it might work. However, the universe is not limited by what I can imagine.”
Writers, journalists and editors said she was a joy to work with and supportive of other writers. The columnist and author Caitlin Moran said: “Hilary Mantel’s mind was one of the most powerful and magic machines on Earth. We were lucky she wrote as much as she did, but holy hell, it’s devastating that we’ve collectively lost something so astonishing.”
Ted Hodgkinson, of the Southbank Centre, said Mantel was “always so incredibly insightful, funny and generous, both onstage and off”.
The author and broadcaster Damian Barr said Mantel was “the only person I ever interviewed that speaks in whole, flawless paragraphs”, adding: “I can’t believe we won’t have another book from her. Thinking of her family and friends. Such a loss.”
Nilanjana Roy, an author and broadcaster, said Mantel had “incredible range”, adding: “This sudden loss feels devastating. She was tenacious, gifted, visionary.”
The writer, actor and comedian Katy Brand perhaps summed up the sentiment of many. She said: “Hilary Mantel. Oh no. Oh no no no no. Her writing transported me. I wanted so much more of it. I’m glad for what she gave us. A true genius. RIP.”