Famed British novelist Hilary Mantel died on Sept. 22. Mary Robertson, The Huntington’s former William A. Moffett Curator of British Historical Manuscripts, remembers Mantel’s extraordinary talent and their special friendship.
The sudden death last Thursday of famed British novelist Hilary Mantel was especially poignant for The Huntington community and for those who knew her as a treasured friend as well as an internationally celebrated author.
On Aug. 25, 2005, when I was the curator of British historical manuscripts at The Huntington, I received an extraordinary email almost out of the blue from Hilary. “Almost” because, although we had neither met nor corresponded in the past, I knew that our then-literary curator Sue Hodson had begun to collect Hilary’s papers for the Library in 2001. Sue and Hilary had met the year before at a Huntington conference devoted to modern British literature, during which Sue witnessed Hilary more than hold her own onstage with writers Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, and Christopher Hitchens. Discussions began almost immediately about the possibility of her papers eventually coming to The Huntington, and, in the ensuing years, she periodically sent batches of her literary papers to San Marino to be accessioned, cataloged, and made available to scholars.