Novelist Hilary Mantel to apply for Irish citizenship

Novelist Hilary Mantel has said she hopes to gain Irish citizenship, leave the UK and become “European” again.

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the Wolf Hall writer said she “might breathe better in a republic” and “might be able to fix it”.

Ms. Mantel said the popularity of the monarchy “confused” her.

“I don’t want to think that people are naturally subservient and genuinely appreciate inequality, although I understand that they prefer change to continuity,” she said.

“I could breathe better in a republic, and maybe I could work it out.”

“I hope to reconnect with my family history and become an Irish citizen.

“Our planned move was held back by Covid, but while I love where I live now, in the West Country by the sea, I feel the urge to pack my bags and be European again.”

The Booker Prize winner, 69, who grew up in Derbyshire, said she had been heavily influenced by her Irish ancestry.

“My parents were both born in England, but the generation that shaped me was the one before, and I was aware that I belonged to an Irish family,” she said.

“We were from the north, working class and Catholic, and to me English was Protestant and from the south, and owned by people with more money.

“So when I started writing, I imagined myself as a provincial writer, in a good way, and as a European writer, rather than an English writer.”

Ms Mantel also described the UK as “an artificial and precarious construction”.

“It’s not holy, and it’s not even old. As a child, I didn’t learn anything about the history of other parts of these islands,” she said.

“Wales and Scotland were only mentioned when the English were fighting there; they were meant to be conquered and added to the larger territory, their complex stories turning into childish tales consumed by tourists.

“I have always been sensitive to the way the word ‘England’ is used to include other nations, a habit that speaks volumes about the underlying attitudes.”

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