Hilary Mantel – a triumph of mind over matter

Hilary Mantel, the only British author to win the Booker prize twice for her Thomas Cromwell trilogy has died.  She was extraordinarily prolific by any standards but more so because of the ill-health that plagued her throughout her life.

   She was born 6 July 1952, sadly no birth time, and had a fractured childhood with her mother’s lover, Jack Mantel, moving in with the family when she was seven. He shared a bedroom with her mother while her father moved to another room. They moved when she was 11 to escape the local gossip and disapproval and her father left, never to meet up with her again.

  She married her childhood sweetheart, a geologist, when she was 20, worked as a social worker after university with her debilitating illness — pain, vomiting, fatigue — dubbed psychosomatic by doctors. Eventually she diagnosed herself with endometriosis, a disorder of the cells that line the womb, which required surgery and left her unable to have children. Hormone replacement therapy saw her develop “a steroid moon face” and balloon from her previous size eight to a size 20: “I went to live in a body I didn’t recognise,” she said.

  She had visions as a child, firstly of the Devil when she was seven and again later. Ghosts were natural to her: “I am used to ‘seeing’ things that aren’t there,” she wrote. “Or — to put it in a way more acceptable to me — I am used to seeing things that ‘aren’t there’.”

  She was a Sun Cancer conjunct Venus and Uranus so destined for a unique path in life and marked by the rupture in her relationship with her father. Her Cancer planets were square a creative Neptune and an austere Saturn, as well as being widely trine a determined Mars in Scorpio. Her Jupiter in Taurus was in a confident square to Pluto and her South Node which was merciful given the difficulties of her life. Her Moon may have been Sagittarius or Capricorn.

  Her Mercury in flamboyant Leo was sextile a well-organised Saturn, in an acerbic/argumentative square to Mars and a confident square to Jupiter.

 Her writers’ 21st Harmonic and her creative 7th Harmonic were the strongest, marking her out as an exceptional talent when it came to words and communication.

 An extraordinary life – I imagine there would be strong 8th house and 6th house planets if a birth time was known for ghosts and visions and health.

12 thoughts on “Hilary Mantel – a triumph of mind over matter

  1. On 22 September 2022, Mantel died at a hospital in Exeter from complications of a stroke she had three days earlier, on 19 September; she was Reacting to her death, author J.K. Rowling described Mantel as a “genius”, Bernardine Evaristo called Mantel a “massive talent”, and Nilanjana Roy called Mantel “tenacious, gifted, visionary”. Rectified chart below.


  2. An astonishing talent, and gone far too soon. Hilary Mantel’s novels are so diverse too – from a claustrophobic story set in the Middle East, through ghosts and mediums in suburbia, to the amazing A Place of Greater Safety about the French Revolution….and then crowned with the Wolf Hall trilogy.

    Thomas Cromwell doesn’t have a birth date to use, something she even mentions in one of the trilogy. However, there are some curious links to the date of his gruesome execution – 28th July, 1540 JC.
    That day, Mercury at 8 Leo is conjunct Jupiter at 10 Leo, Sun at 14 Leo, opposing Pluto in Aquarius – Hilary’s natal Mercury is at 8 Leo, able to ‘tune in’ to this pattern. I can imagine all that Leo as the King, with Pluto in Aquarius as ‘the people’ but also cold or fanatical decisions I think. The death of Cromwell was also Henry’s wedding day – when he married Catherine Howard, his fifth wife. Such a deeply chilling pair of momentous events. Catherine would be beheaded just two years later.

    Tudor Saturn, bringing history and fate, was 10 Libra. Hilary’s Saturn is 8 Libra, sitting on 1540’s South Node at 8 Libra. Mercury writes about this from 8 Leo in both charts.
    Then the planet of dreams and ghosts, Neptune, is 16 Aries in 1540 – opposing Hilary’s Neptune in Libra and squaring her Sun Venus Uranus in Cancer.
    The death of Thomas Cromwell shows a regal Leo Sun conjunct Uranus and Jupiter, trine Neptune. Hilary herself has Sun conjunct Venus and Uranus, sextile Jupiter, square Neptune.
    I haven’t looked at her connections with the French Revolution and the characters she brought to life in that era, but I’d guess they are there. Perhaps channeling Cromwell’s turbulent story was finally too much for her. She completed it, and at some level maybe she felt her work was done?

    • Well, to add – a quick look at the great Jupiter/Uranus conjunction of 1789 that heralded the French Revolution, shows that it was conjunct Hilary Mantel’s own Black Moon Lilith at 3 Leo. This is another Pluto in Aquarius (18) era, like the Tudor Reformation period, and Pluto opposes Hilary’s own Pluto in Leo. The French chart for the J/U conjunction (and storming of the Bastille) has Neptune at 20 Libra, conjunct Hilary M’s own Neptune.

      • Fascinating interconnections there, thank you Jane. I wonder about Mark Rylances’s astrology and how it reflects that of Cromwell. I know that MR lost his stepdaughter suddenly which he has spoken about in interviews. Cromwell lost his wife and daughters to sweating sickness.

  3. Mantel was a true literary great and her death is a real loss. Her re imagining of Tudor England was simply a tour de force which left many professional historians impressed. Mantel also had a genius for describing the way illness, bereavement, our personal past and our family background summon up all those ghosts that lurk in our imagination on the boundaries of this corporal world always waiting to break in. She showed how our experiences, minds and our memories can combine to haunt even someone as rooted in the material world as a Thomas Cromwell.

  4. Thank you Marjorie. I was hoping you would write a post for her. I was surprised her sun wasn’t Capricorn so suspect strongly her moon is. I have sun, moon and Venus in Capricorn and I have always felt that she was a kindred spirit. But then I felt the same with Doris Lessing who Hilary reminded me of in the sheer depth of the writing but then Doris Lessing was born 22 October so maybe my ‘ feeling’ doesn’t hold up. The news said Hilary’s death was sudden but peaceful. Was there anything particular that showed that up?

  5. On 22 September 2022, Mantel died at a hospital in Exeter from complications of a stroke she had three days earlier, on 19 September; she was Reacting to her death, author J.K. Rowling described Mantel as a “genius”, Bernardine Evaristo called Mantel a “massive talent”, and Nilanjana Roy called Mantel “tenacious, gifted, visionary”. Her rectified chart below…
    notice the full, fleshy face of Pisces rising….rulers Neptune, 7th, and Mars in Scorpio on
    the 8th cusp giving painful endometriosis. Pluto, 6th, aspecting Neptune gave psychosis

  6. An amazing writer, and one I still knew next to nothing about, because I never thought the inner World she gave to historical figures reflected her. Therefore I never knew of her endometriosis, a condition I’ve myself been diagnosed in my early 30’s. And her story is all too familiar even today, with many GPs in particular being completely ignorant on wide spread symptoms related to the condition. Albeit the typical diagnostic delay – I definitely had symptoms that were relates to the disease as early as 15 years before, but contraception kept them at bay for almost a decade – , I had experienced gynecologists suspecting that a cyst might be endometriosis related on separate occasions. When I finally sought help after experiencing worst pain in my life outside cycle – I later realized these happened some time, 4-7 days, after ovulation – every two or three months, and eventually loosing 4 kg over Christmas period, because I couldn’t eat and having alarming levels of inflammation, a very experienced gynecologist immediately sent me to endoscopy queue. It turned out I had really sever intestinal issues due to endometriosis growth, but fortunately my fallopian tubes were clear. After having one child – our choice – without any issues, and then, when she was 5, a horrible relapse with heavy and painful menstruation, I finally overcame my doubts on hormonal contraception and had a coil inserted.

    Astrologically, I had the worst bout and surgery with Virgo Saturn. I also think the condition itself is tied to my Capricorn Moon square Pluto. Therefore, since it’s possible Hilary Mantel had Capricorn Moon inconjunct her early Leo Pluto, this contact would make sense – also with her early life drama.

    • Oh, correction, I didn’t look at her Pluto correctly. But I see she had Libra Saturn that might have been square early Capricorn Moon. It would work too, I actually have Saturn/Moon too (yes, my Moon is a mess).

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