Hilary Mantel, my mother and me

Reading The Mirror and the Light to my mother Olgamary in Moruya Hospital, March 2020

When my mother Olgamary was first diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2010, I asked if she had any regrets. Without missing a beat, she said, “I might not live to read the sequel to Wolf Hall.”

The story became so well-known in our circle that when Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel died last month, many friends and family members contacted me to say they were thinking of my mother and me.

Not long after my mother died in May 2020, I started writing up the story of her relationship with Hilary Mantel with a view to publishing it. At that very time, Australian author Teagan Bennett Daylight released her book The Details, about books and her own mother’s death, and published My mother taught me the joy of reading. I remember her through books. So I set aside my piece.

Hilary Mantel’s death led me back to my article, which I was surprised to discover was near complete. I wrote the ending, gave it a polish and submitted it to The Monthly Online. To my delight, they agreed to publish it. You can read the article here.

I don’t often write personal pieces, but I feel like my mother would approve. Among the loveliest feedback I’ve had on the article is that readers who knew her can hear my mother’s voice.

I miss her more than I can say.

About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. She won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and the Scarlet Stiletto Award short story award. Her latest novel is, Mother of Pearl, published by Transit Lounge. Angela holds a PhD in Creative Writing, is former CEO of Writers Victoria, and currently works as CEO of Public Libraries Victoria.
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8 Responses to Hilary Mantel, my mother and me

  1. SD says:

    Hi, Angela,
    My deepest sympathies for the loss of your mother.
    I am pleased to see you have chosen to wear green while enjoying Mantel’s contribution to Tudor scholarship with your mother. 🙂
    My grandmother was a passionate (self taught) scholar of the history of the English monarchy. We learnt much at her knee (though I wouldn’t swear to the academic rigour of it all). We stumbled across The White Queen on Netflix a couple of weeks ago and I have been having many conversations with my (uninitiated) husband about the Plantagenets and the Tudors. My grandmother was a firm believer that Richard III had been unfairly maligned by the Tudors and Shakespeare. I can’t remember her views on the Cromwells, probably very disapproving.
    Kind regards

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi SD, I think our grandmothers would have gotten along famously. My mother’s mother was also a great self-taught historian, and it’s a fascination for the same era and shared with your grandmother a belief that Richard III was maligned. I remember wishing she’d been alive when his remains were unearthed in a car park some years ago.
      Have you seen Six: The Musical? A feminist retelling of the six wives of Henry VIII. It’s fast and fun but also highlights the injustice with which they were treated and the monstrousness of the monarch.
      Thanks for sharing these memories.


  2. What a lovely tribute, Angela. I’m so glad you and your mother had that special bond. I hope the memories of what you shared give you peace and comfort as you keep moving through life. Your mother sounds like a very special person, and I’m sure it meant a lot to her that you shared Hilary Mantel with her in that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. FictionFan says:

    Lovely article, Angela. It’s wonderful when you can share much-loved books with someone you love. You’ve reminded me of many bookish conversations I had with my own mother who died some 13 years ago now, and I still miss her every day. But as you will have already discovered, the memories of shared experiences are a permanent comfort and joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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