Hilary Mantel .v. Kate Middleton

At a lecture last week titled, 'Royal Bodies' Hilary Mantel criticised Kate Middleton. Quoting from an article in The Daily Telegraph:

'Mantel believed Kate Middleton to be “a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung. In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore.”

Prince William’s wife-to-be was as “painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. She appears precision-made, machine-made...'

Ms. Mantel says that Ms Middleton was designed by a committee. From what I can gather, Ms. Mantel was comparing Kate Middleton to Anne Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn has always been cast as the wicked seducer, where as from my reading and understanding, Anne Boleyn was highly intelligent who had a great influence over Henry VIII beliefs and politics. I need to read the lecture which will appear in the next issue of Literary Review.

An excellent book about Anne Boleyn is 'The Lady in the Tower' by Alison Weir.

For full article see:-


I think Hilary Mantel does have personal issues with the ways she looks.

Though when you say 'also agree 100%' you need to read the article. Links here, as well as quite full quotes. One of the points that Ms Mantel was making is that as Anne Boleyn (one of Henry VIII wives) was nothing more that a vessel for producing an heir, Kate Middleton is also nothing more. Hence the dressed up, fixed smile, all the shop window for the real Kate that we never see.

Yes, I love Mantel’s work, but I was also thinking she’s got a bloody good agent/publicist.

Oh, oh, so I was right! It WAS a marketing ploy all along! Of course the author (Hilary Mantel) of historical novels is perfectly entitled to compare living Royals with those portrayed in her novels, but to do so in derogatory terms means it must have been written in a devious manipulative way, knowing full well that the press would seize on any criticism of the Duchess of Cambridge at this particular time. Also the timing of the remarks has to have been more than pure coincidence with Kate undertaking her first engagement since her early morning sickness problems! If you read the full speech and tone down the remarks about Kate to the same level Ms Mantel used for Princess Diana, then I doubt if the press would have picked it up at all.

Ms Mantel's sales of her books have soared worldwide since the press reported on her controversial speech which include references to the Duchess of Cambridge.

'Wolf Hall, the first of her trilogy about Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII, has already shot up the Amazon book charts, with sales more than doubling in the last 24 hours.

It has risen from 15th place to 7th, up 200 per cent, with sales of the sequel Bring Up the Bodies also seeing a significant increase of 69 per cent.' according to the Daily Telegraph.

Often happens though. The BBC ban a record like Je t'aime and it shoots to number one.

At the Oxford Literary Festival, Ms Mantel is also to receive the Bodley Medal for outstanding contribution to literature.

This article in The Guardian is worth a read on the subject of how Hilary Mantel has been misunderstood re: Ms Middleton.

See link:-


Its a strange old world alright. When I returned to Western Europe after seemingly spending yonks everywhere else, I looked round for online newspapers in English, and using what remained of my marbles and using my memory I thought I would go for what used to be regarded as 'quality' papers - The Guardian, The Independent and the Daily Telegraph. Quick and short excursions to the comics department of the Sun etc, were only punctuated by astonishment at finding the Daily Mail so far down in the dirt.

Two years on and I have just about given up on the British Press as it is all 'trivia and tripe' doling out the daily ration of xenophobia and rubbish. Once upon a moontime, the Economist was worth a read but that has swerved so far to the extreme right as to make it almost impossible to believe.

Are there any REAL Journalists out there? Anywhere? Do we really get what we deserve? I didn't ask for rubbish, so who did? Murdoch obviously read the Runes correctly, or is the demon incarnate - but did he start it, or was the demand for the lowest of the low always there?

Are we losing language anyway? I read a year or so back that the top-selling non-fiction book in the UK was something like 'Using SMS'. God help us all!

Funny that way the press and I suppose the Mantel piece (geddittttt?) was not designed to get a bit of attention and sell a few penny dreadfuls? It's a rather sick old world out there and the leeches are thriving. (No insult to those much maligned Herudinea intended).

The whole text is in the LRB archive here http://www.lrb.co.uk/contributors/hilary-mantel (ROYAL BODIES) and is actually extremely interesting, not a cheap attack onanyone except perhaps the media... the Telegraph article actually just filleted out the most sensationalist bits from the Daily Mail's tendentious and trouble-stirring write-up (which was just what you might expect from both publications).

Yes, you do need to read the speech. The press have only picked on, and interpreted Ms Mantel’s speech wrongly.

Pass the sick bag please...... nul points Mantel. Quite put me orf me lunch when I saw her on TV. Somebody should get the red flag out before she's sprung on yer. Don't want to frighten the children do we? 'Ancock had a good one about the salvation of the wool industry as well. And as for Kate ...... corrrrr! C'mon over.

What a lovely topic this is - I can agree with *everyone*!! Well said, Catharine!! (Said a pompous old f*rt - sorry - didn't mean to sound pompous!!!)

I am with you 100% Sarah. One can only feel sorry for both Kate and Prince William (and, of course, Prince Harry!) The press are incorrigible - and this apparent attack on a woman in the middle of her first pregnancy would seem totally uncalled for and spiteful in the extreme. Publicity hungry? Ms Mantel is apparently a successful author. Why should she need additional publicity? All very weird!

I did wonder why she'd done it. Maybe just mis-read the response she might receive.

Oh, oh, do I detect some kind of marketing ploy by 60 year old Ms Hilary Mantel to get her name up in lights? She has had incredible success with her historical novels, winning two prestigious Man Booker prizes, and so she has no need to stoop to these kind of levels. Since her remarks were premeditated being part of a lecture, which has been described as 'brilliantly written', she would have known in advance only too well that she would gain a lot of publicity, and provoke discussion. I'm afraid for me, this makes me move away from buying her books, and only serves to highlight a woman who says of herself 'throwing tantrums in a fat-lady shop'. Her lecture sounds like another tantrum!

I've just seen, though not read as yet, the complete lecture at:-


This may throw more light upon the issue. After all the press will go for what is most dramatic when they report news.

Hear hear. People often seem to forget that there is a real human being behind a public persona.

A little more pleasantness in the world wouldn't go amiss (IMHO!)

I read that with amazement. Did anyone ask her to make a personal attack on Kate? I thought she was totally out of order, because she should know better.

Being a member of the royal family does not allow you to express your real personality out in public. You are expected to behave in a certain way, and you keep your real self for private. It's even worse for Kate because she married into it, so has a weight of expectation on her. I thought the comments about her being nothing more than an heir machine totally offensive (not that anyone will care).

Kate seems to be a very good match for William, and is an asset to the royal family. Hilary Mantel can stick that in her over-sized gob and I hope it chokes her.