Dame Hilary Mantel, 1952-2022

When in 2020 I started a large textile project inspired by Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, it was initially a way to keep myself occupied during lockdown.

As the project progressed, and grew ever more ambitious, I started to worry about using someone else’s work as inspiration, and felt I should seek permission. I nervously wrote to Hilary’s agent, explaining what I was doing and hoping she wouldn’t mind. Four hours later I had an email from Hilary herself, expressing interest and encouragement and asking me to keep in touch as my stitching developed.

Over the last couple of years, we corresponded by email. She was unfailingly encouraging, kind and generous, shared personal stories, and seemed genuinely touched that a textile artist was stitching her work.

I was last in contact with her 10 days before she died, when I emailed her about the next part of my Cromwell project: working with yellow satin to create a piece inspired by Cromwell’s own “quylte of yelow Turquye Saten”.

The last thing she wrote to me was “I look forward to hearing about the yellow satin”.

I am devastated that she is no longer here to see it, and that there will be no more of her glorious writing, her sharp wit, and her stretching of the imagination. She was a truly wonderful writer, and I will miss her enormously.

My thoughts are with her husband, friends and family, and all who she touched with her generous spirit. My heart is broken.

Pieces of yellow silk, laid on a white surface. A yellow cardboard template of a bird rests on one piece of silk. A pair of scissors is just visible.