Bring Up the Bodies

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Bring up the Bodies
First edition
AuthorHilary Mantel
Audio read bySimon Vance
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesThomas Cromwell trilogy
GenreHistorical Fiction
PublisherFourth Estate (UK)
Henry Holt and Co. (US)
Publication date
8 May 2012
Media typePrint (hardback)
LC ClassPR6063.A438 B75 2012
Preceded byWolf Hall (2009) 
Followed byThe Mirror and the Light (2020) 

Bring Up the Bodies is an historical novel by Hilary Mantel, sequel to the award-winning Wolf Hall and part of a trilogy charting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, the powerful minister in the court of King Henry VIII. It won the 2012 Booker Prize and the 2012 Costa Book of the Year. The final novel in the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, was published in March 2020.


Bring Up the Bodies follows closely upon the events of Wolf Hall. The King and Cromwell—now Master Secretary to the King's Privy Council—are guests of the Seymour family at Wolf Hall. Cromwell himself is attracted to the Seymours' daughter Jane.

The King spends time with Jane Seymour and begins to fall in love; his marriage to the new queen, Anne Boleyn, is sometimes loving but often descends into angry quarrels. "I cannot live as I have lived," Henry finally tells Cromwell in private. He has tired of Anne, who brings him neither peace nor a son, and wants his marriage ended. Cromwell vows to make this happen.

Ever the dealmaker, Cromwell tries to negotiate a separation through Anne's father, Wiltshire, and her brother, Rochford. Wiltshire is willing to negotiate; Rochford is not, and tells Cromwell that if Anne's marriage to the King endures he will "make short work of you."

Cromwell talks to those close to Anne. The more he does, the more he hears she's been unfaithful to the King. The musician, Mark Smeaton, and Anne's sister-in-law, Lady Rochford, pass on rumours to this effect. Cromwell begins to build his case. With proof enough to have her tried for treason, the King is willing to see Anne destroyed to serve his ends. Mindful that many of those closest to Anne helped ruin his mentor, Cardinal Wolsey, Cromwell relishes the opportunity to bring them down. And though he is not sure all of the evidence is true, he has gone so far in the matter that he cannot turn back.

In the end, Anne and several of her circle, including her brother, are tried and put to death. The King moves to wed Jane Seymour and rewards Cromwell with a barony. Having engineered the King's new marriage, and with the new Queen's family as his firm allies, his position as Henry's chief adviser is now assured.


Bring Up the Bodies was published in May 2012, by HarperCollins in the United Kingdom and by Henry Holt and Co. in the United States, to critical acclaim.[1][2]


According to Bookmarks, the book received "positive" reviews based on 16 critic reviews with 12 being "rave" and 2 being "positive" and 2 being "mixed".[3] On The Omnivore, in an aggregation of British and American critic reviews, the book received a score of 4 out of 5.[4][5] Janet Maslin reviewed the novel positively in The New York Times:

[The book's] ironic ending will be no cliffhanger for anyone even remotely familiar with Henry VIII's trail of carnage. But in Bring Up the Bodies it works as one. The wonder of Ms. Mantel's retelling is that she makes these events fresh and terrifying all over again."[2]


In January 2014, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) staged a two-part adaptation of both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies in its winter season, with a script by Mantel and Mike Poulton.[6] Premiering at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, it transferred to the Aldwych Theatre, London, later that year.

A six-part BBC television series Wolf Hall, the adaptation of the books Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Jonathan Pryce, was broadcast in the UK in January 2015[7] and the United States in April 2015.

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ Atwood, Margaret (4 May 2012). "Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel". The Guardian (review). London. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (1 May 2012). "A Canny Henchman, Targeting the Queen". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Bring Up the Bodies". Bookmarks. Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  4. ^ "Hilary Mantel". The Omnivore. Retrieved 17 February 2024.
  5. ^ "Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel". The Omnivore. Retrieved 17 February 2024.
  6. ^ Bowie Sell, Daisy (23 January 2013). "David Tennant to play Richard II at the RSC". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Wolf Hall adaptation planned for BBC Two". BBC News. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  9. ^ Staff writer (2 January 2013). "Hilary Mantel wins 2012 Costa novel prize". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  10. ^ McCrum, Robert (29 January 2013). "Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies: a middlebrow triumph". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  11. ^ Rahim, Sameer (29 January 2013). "Costa Book Award: who would dare refuse Hilary Mantel her crown?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  12. ^ Staff writer (30 January 2013). "Hilary Mantel wins Costa Book Award". BBC News. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  13. ^ Daley, David (23 December 2012). "The What To Read Awards: Top 10 Books of 2012". Salon. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  14. ^ "Shortlist for 2013 Walter Scott Prize Announced". Borders Book Festival. 18 April 2013. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Tan Twan Eng wins The Walter Scott Prize". Borders Book Festival. 14 June 2013. Archived from the original on 8 September 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.

External links[edit]