Five Suggestions for the Final Wolf Hall Book: An Open Letter to Hilary Mantel

Thomas Cromwell in front of Bristol Cathedral with various papers.
Old Crommie chilling with some papers.

Dear Ms. Mantel,

It could well be said that we live in a golden age of historical fiction. Phillipa Gregory is fast approaching world domination; streaming services and awards ceremonies positively teem with ambitious period dramas; sale figures for scythes are through the roof.

But despite this outpouring of enthusiasm for the past — perhaps as a distraction from our present day troubles — there has been one glaring omission. Ms. Mantel, it has now been seven years since Bring Up The Bodies was published. Do you know what Thomas Cromwell did in seven years? Of course you do. For the benefit of less informed readers, I’ll tell you what you already know: he did a whole bunch of shit and then got executed.

But I do understand the immense pressure you must be under. I also understand that finishing a trilogy with its protagonist’s inevitable death may seem a depressing prospect. You can’t be relishing the thought of having to follow Thomas Cromwell through another 600+ pages only to end with a beheading. Plus, you’ve got at least two more wives to get through first. That’s a 100% increase in wives.

So I’ve put together a list of ideas that you might want to include in the final book. A one-stop inspiration station, if you will. No need to thank me.

1. Thomas Cromwell fucks

Don’t get me wrong — I’m extremely grateful for that scene in Bring Up The Bodies where Crommers pays a few groats to sleep with that innkeeper, and then gets ripped to shreds over it by his travelling party. That was great. Other memorable moments include his grief-fuelled affair with his sister-in-law after his wife’s death — too genuinely moving to really be sexy, sorry — and his conspicuous lack of reaction when he’s asked if he’s ever heard of the disgusting new French practice known as a blowjob. I even got slightly distracted when you had Cromwell joke about taking out his dick and putting it on the negotiating table “if the conversation flags”. But I’m sure you’ll agree there’s room for more. Ms. Mantel, give the people what they want — and by “people” I mean me, and by “what they want” I mean a steamy, erotic Cromwell sex scene complete with at least one (1) partially ripped bodice. I don’t want to have to switch to Phillipa, but I will.

2. Anne Boleyn returns from the dead

Before you ask, yes, I do understand that it was Anne’s execution that cemented her historical infamy. For centuries, historians have argued over her character — was she a duplicitous hussy, or simply an innocent victim of circumstance? Ms. Mantel, your version of Anne — somewhere in between — is one of my favourites, and I can’t be alone in wishing she was still around to spar with Cromwell while deliberately mispronouncing his name. Marvel Comics does it all the time!

3. Anne of Cleves fucks everyone’s shit up

As you and I both know, Anne of Cleves, undisputedly* the best wife of Henry VIII, has yet to be introduced in the Wolf Hall series — so this bullet point is really just an excuse for me to rave about her. Have you considered “Anne 2: She Cleaves” as a working title? Not only did she not have to sleep with Henry (by this point a badly aging 49-year-old whose leg was mostly oozing sore), she also accepted his divorce gracefully before fucking off to live out a long and luxurious life of leisure. Readers: would you rather have regular sex with a man for whom the word “slimy” applies both literally and figuratively, or spend your days chilling in multiple country houses, surrounded by expensive gowns? That’s what I thought.

4. Chapuys finds worldwide acclaim with England’s first gossip blog

Everyone loves Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador bringing Gossip Girl into the 16th century. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that his detailed, often highly personal and opinionated accounts of Henry’s court inform a hefty chunk of Wolf Hall, which I applaud. From stubbornly referring to Anne Boleyn as “the concubine” on official diplomacy documents to sneaking round to Cromwell’s estate for a cheeky off-the-record natter over a goblet of wine, the man was clearly born in the wrong century. Give him his own gossip column so that I can die happy.

5. Cromwell doesn’t die

I just feel like it’s kind of predictable?

In conclusion, please release the last Cromwell book before the current hopelessness of the world drives me to sell all my belongings, quit my job, and vanish into England’s last few remaining areas of wilderness never to be seen again.

Yours desperately,

Lorna Martin

*You could technically dispute this, but you’d be wrong.

Author: Lorna

Lorna Martin creates Content by day and pursues worm-like activities by night. She’s playing both sides, so that she’ll always come out on top. Her interests include poetry, vampires, 16th century politicians, Golden Age Hollywood glamour, anything to which the word "gothic" could reasonably be applied, the beauty of optimism inherent in the frailty of the human condition, and dirt. When she’s not working on her novel, her other novel, her three in-progress poetry chapbooks, or haunting Hampstead Heath like a 21st century Catherine Earnshaw, Lorna can be found on Twitter @lornarabbit or at lorna-m.tumblr.com.

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