Late Hilary Mantel and husband Gerald divorced and remarried due to health battle

Ella Kipling September 23, 2022
Late Hilary Mantel and husband Gerald divorced and remarried due to health battle
Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images

Dame Hilary Mantel, best known for Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall, has died at the age of 70, leaving behind husband Gerald her publisher confirmed on social media.

Fellow writers and fans of her books are mourning and reflecting on Mantel’s incredibly prolific and successful career.

Hilary Mantel has been open about her struggle with endometriosis throughout her life, including speaking about how it has affected her personal life and marriage to husband Gerald.

Hilary Mantel dies aged 70

Her publisher, HarperCollins, announced Mantel’s death on September 23, 2022. The company tweeted: “We are heartbroken at the death of our beloved author, Dame Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband Gerald.

“This is a devastating loss and we can only be grateful she left us with such a magnificent body of work.”

Mantel’s agent throughout her career, Bill Hamilton, said there was “always a slight aura of otherworldliness” about Hilary as she “saw and felt things us ordinary mortals missed”.

He told The Guardian: “Emails from Hilary were sprinkled with bon mots and jokes as she observed the world with relish and pounced on the lazy or absurd and nailed cruelty and prejudice.”

Hilary Mantel married, divorced and remarried Gerald

Hilary Mantel married Gerald McEwen, a geologist, in 1972. They divorced in 1981 but remarried later on. The couple moved to Botswana in 1977 and lived there for five years. Hilary and Gerald also moved to Saudi Arabia for four years before returning to Britain in the mid-1980s.

Mantel experienced chronic illness throughout her life as she suffered from a severe form of endometriosis. The surgery she underwent for it meant she was unable to have children.

Mantel has advocated for more awareness and research on endometriosis. In a 2015 Guardian piece, the author wrote she only received a diagnosis at the age of 27, which meant major surgery was the last resort.

“Abruptly I lost my fertility and, in some ways, lost myself,” she said.

In a 2020 BBC 5 Live interview, Mantel said the couple met when they were students and “everyone predicted doom”.

She continued: “It wasn’t doom, it worked, but my illness and the crisis it occasioned was too difficult for us to surmount and we broke up and divorced for a couple of years.”

They remarried at 30, and have been together since.

Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images

Writing community mourns Mantel

Following the announcement of Mantel’s death, many writers took to Twitter to share their thoughts on her incredible career and what her books meant to them.

Caitlin Moran tweeted: “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.”

Damian Barr said: “I cannot believe the news about Hilary Mantel. With every book she redefined what words can do. She’s the only person I ever interviewed [who] speaks in whole, flawless paragraphs. I can’t believe we won’t have another book from her. Thinking of her family and friends. Such a loss.”

“So very sorry to hear about Hilary Mantel’s passing. We were so lucky to have such a massive talent in our midst. I met her a few times and she was always so warm, down-to-earth and welcoming. RIP #HilaryMantel,” Bernardine Evaristo wrote on Twitter.

Just a few of Hilary Mantel’s achievements

Mantel won the Booker Prize twice – for Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up The Bodies. The latter also won the 2012 Costa book of the year.

The Wolf Hall trilogy, a fictional biography that follows the rise to power of Tudor politician Thomas Cromwell, has sold more than five million copies worldwide and been translated into 41 languages.

In 2006, Mantel was awarded a CBE and in 2014 a DBE. In 1990, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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Ella is the Head of Content at Freshered and also works a freelance journalist at GRV Media, writing for HITC and Reality Titbit. Her interests lie in news and anything culture related including entertainment, musicals, books, and social media. Ella is also a big supporter of student media and writes for her university’s newspaper as well as hosting her own show on the radio station.