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Wolf Hall wins the Man Booker Prize 2009

Wolf Hall wins the Man Booker Prize 2009

Bookies’ favourite scoops prize

Hilary Mantel is tonight (Tuesday 6 October) named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for Wolf Hall, published by Fourth Estate.

Wolf Hall has been the bookies' favourite since the longlist was announced in July, with William Hill taking over 90% of all Man Booker Prize bets on her book.

Wolf Hall was picked from a shortlist of heavy hitting literary authors including Sarah Waters, A.S. Byatt and J.M. Coetzee - who would have been the first person to win the prize three times. Hilary Mantel was herself a judge for the prize in 1990 when A.S. Byatt's Possession won.

Wolf Hall is set in the 1520s and tells the story of Thomas Cromwell's rise to prominence in the Tudor court.  Hilary Mantel has been praised by critics for writing ‘a rich, absorbingly readable historical novel; she has made a significant shift in the way any of her readers interested in English history will henceforward think about Thomas Cromwell.' (The Spectator)

This is the first time the publisher Fourth Estate has had a Man Booker Prize winner. They have previously published three shortlisted books - Nicola Barker's Darkmans (2007) and Carol Shields' novels Unless (2002) and The Stone Diaries (1993).

Hilary Mantel spent five years writing Wolf Hall and she is currently working on a sequel.

James Naughtie, Chair of the judges, made the announcement, which was broadcast by the BBC from the awards dinner at London's Guildhall. Peter Clarke, Chief Executive of Man Group plc, presented Hilary Mantel with a cheque for £50,000.

James Naughtie, comments ‘Hilary Mantel has given us a thoroughly modern novel set in the 16th century.  Wolf Hall has a vast narrative sweep that gleams on every page with luminous and mesmerising detail.

‘It probes the mysteries of power by examining and describing the meticulous dealings in Henry VIII's court, revealing in thrilling prose how politics and history is made by men and women.

‘In the words of Mantel's Thomas Cromwell, whose story this is, "the fate of peoples is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions.  This is how the world changes." ‘

Over and above her prize of £50,000, Hilary Mantel can expect a huge increase in sales and recognition worldwide. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer-bound edition of their book. This year, shortlisted authors will also receive a year's membership to The Groucho Club in London.

The judging panel for the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was: broadcaster and author James Naughtie (Chair); Lucasta Miller, biographer and critic; Michael Prodger, Literary Editor of The Sunday Telegraph; Professor John Mullan, academic and author and Sue Perkins, comedian and broadcaster.

Sales related to the Man Booker Prize have been exceptionally strong this year. More than double the number of copies of books have been sold between longlist and shortlist announcement, and from shortlist announcement to winner announcement, compared to last year.

The winner

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel                   

HarperCollins - Fourth Estate, £18.99

Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey, his chief advisor, is charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant.  Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.


Hilary Mantel CBE was born in Glossop, Derbyshire on 6 July 1952. After studying Law, she was employed as a social worker then lived in Botswana for five years, followed by four years in Saudi Arabia, returning to Britain in the mid-1980s.  Her novels include Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (1988), A Change of Climate (1994), The Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir (2003) and Learning to Talk: Short Stories (2003).  Her novel Beyond Black (2005) was shortlisted for a 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize and the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction.  In 2006 she was awarded a CBE.

For further information please contact Patrick Hargadon on 020 8307 4067 or email

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Notes to Editors:

Hilary Mantel is available for interview. Please contact Patrick Hargadon at Fourth Estate on 020 8307 4067 or email

The winner of the Man Booker Prize was chosen from 132 entries, including 11 called in by the judges. The 2009 shortlisted titles were:

A.S. Byatt                     The Children's Book                 Random House, Chatto and Windus

J.M. Coetzee               Summertime                            Random House, Harvill Secker

Adam Foulds               The Quickening Maze              Random House, Jonathan Cape

Hilary Mantel               Wolf Hall                                  HarperCollins, Fourth Estate

Simon Mawer              The Glass Room                       Hachette, Little, Brown

Sarah Waters               The Little Stranger                    Hachette, Little, Brown, Virago

For the 2009 Man Booker Prize, UK publishers were eligible to submit two full-length novels published between 1 October 2008 and 30 September 2009 and in addition any title by an author who has previously won the Booker or Man Booker Prize may be submitted. Any book by an author who has been shortlisted within the last five years is also entitled to automatic entry.

The Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969, and Man Group plc was announced as the sponsor of the prize in April 2002, with a five year extension agreed in 2006. For a full history of the prize including previous winners, shortlisted authors and judges visit the website: It is a major media and information tool which is accessed worldwide with up to the minute information about both the annual Man Booker Prize and the biennial Man Booker International Prize. Featuring news, interviews and written pieces as well as a lively forum and full history archive of the prize, the site is used by journalists, bloggers and general members of the public on a daily basis.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (Atlantic Books) won the Man Booker Prize 2008. The British publisher's editions of the novel have sold over half a million copies. It is being translated into 39 different languages.

Free audio extracts from all 13 longlisted titles are available to listen to online and download to your mobile phone. Visit to listen online or text MBP to 60300* to download to your mobile phone. *Text messages are charged at standard network rates. Downloads to mobile phone require mobile internet access.

The Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all sides of the book world. Its members are: Ion Trewin, Chair (Literary Director, Man Booker Prizes); Richard Cable, publisher; Mark Chilton, Company Secretary, Booker Ltd; Peter Clarke, Chief Executive, Man Group plc; Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust; Victoria Glendinning, writer; Basil Comely, BBC TV; Derek Johns, literary agent; Gerry Johnson, Managing Director, Waterstone's; Peter Kemp, fiction editor, The Sunday Times; Nigel Newton, publisher; Fiammetta Rocco, literary editor, The Economist (Man Booker International Prize administrator); Eve Smith (Company Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation); and Robert Topping; Topping & Company Booksellers.

The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) which, since 2002, has been responsible for the award of the prize. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are former Chairman of Booker plc, Jonathan Taylor CBE (Chair); Lord Baker of Dorking CH; playwright and President of the Royal Literary Fund, Ronald Harwood CBE; former Chair of the British Council, Baroness Kennedy QC; writer, Baroness Neuberger DBE; and former Finance Director of Rentokil plc, Christopher Pearce. Martyn Goff CBE, former Man Booker Prize administrator, has recently been appointed President of the Foundation and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is a Vice President.

The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man Group plc. Man is a world-leading alternative investment management business. With a broad range of funds for institutional and private investors globally, it is known for its performance, innovative product design and investor service. Man manages around $43 billion. The original business was founded in 1783. Today, Man Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 100 Index with a market capitalisation of around £5 billion. Man Group is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the FTSE4Good Index.

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Each year The Booker Prize Foundationpays forthe production ofthe Man Booker Prize for Fiction shortlisted titles in Braille, Giant Print and Audio formats by the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB). The Foundation is also working with the Sound Archive of the British Library onits 'National Life Stories - Authors' Lives' project by funding archive interviews withshortlisted authors.

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