Depictions of Thomas Cromwell in Literature
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by Hilary Mantel
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is the first novel to position Thomas Cromwell as a central character and imagine Tudor England through his eyes. In this first of a proposed two books, Mantel deftly strips away the myths attached to Cromwell's reputation and instead envisages him as a progressive rationalist with surprisingly modern ideals.
'England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe oppose him. The quest for the petulant king's freedom destroys his advisor, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum and a deadlock.
Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a bully and a charmer, Cromwell has broken all the rules of a rigid society in his rise to power, and is prepared to break some more. Rising from the ashes of personal disaster - the loss of his young family and of Wolsey, his beloved patron - he picks his way through a court where 'man is wolf to man'. Pitting himself against parliament, the political establishment and the papacy, he is prepared to reshape England to his own and Henry's desires.
From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding England moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.'
Reviews for Wolf Hall
<a class="external" href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/26/hilary-mantel-wolf-hall" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="The Tudors' finest portraitist yet">The Tudors' finest portraitist yet</a>
Olivia Laing, The Observer
<a class="external" href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/may/02/wolf-hall-hilary-mantel" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Henry's fighting dog">Henry's fighting dog</a>
Christopher Taylor, The Guardian
<a class="external" href="http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/fiction/article6160192.ece" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel">'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel</a>
Vanora Bennett, The Times
<a class="external" href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/5207969/Hilary-Mantel.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Hilary Mantel">Hilary Mantel</a>
Claudia FitzHerbert, The Telegraph
<a class="external" href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/5206724/Wolf-Hall-by-Hilary-Mantel-review.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel: review">'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel: review</a>
Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The Telegraph
[Cromwell, perhaps not such a villain?]
Hilary Mantel, The Times
|Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell's Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege - a black cockerel sacrificed on the alter, and the disappearance of Scarnsea's Great Relic. Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake's investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes ...|