The cover of Hilary Mantel’s eagerly-awaited final novel in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror & the Light, has been revealed featuring waves crashing through green swathes of forest-like greenery.
The striking and modern image, designed by Julian Humphries, art director for 4th Estate and William Collins, was posted on 4th Estate’s media channels on Wednesday morning (4th September) along with a video. The cover features white lettering and is mostly green and blue with fragments of waves and reflective mirror-type imagery, interspersed with sections of forest-green which appear to have finger-print style textures.
A dramatic 35-second video has also been posted across HarperCollins' media channels, notching up 10,000 views in less than 24 hours, featuring rousing background classical music and words from the trilogy. The clip shows an in-depth exploration of the cover with following words fading into the background against a background of waves, shards of glass, Tudor Rose and Plantagenet lion: “What have I, But what my kings give me, Who am I, But what he has made me, All my trust is in him.” It concludes with a blurb which reads: “The Stunning conclusion to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall Trilogy”, showing a 3-D image of the book which also boasts the lion on the spine.
The third and final in the Cromwell trilogy will be published on 5th March 2020, as reported on 22nd May following a teaser campaign featuring a mysterious billboard in Leicester Square the previous day. It will be 864 pages long, retailing at £25.
Matt Clacher, 4th Estate and William Collins marketing director, told The Bookseller that it "was an almost impossible brief" but that Humphries has succeeded in creating something modern. "Julian’s covers for Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies have become iconic and sit on millions of shelves across the globe," Clacher said.
"We wanted a nod to what has come before, while creating something bold, beautiful and new. I think he has worked wonders: It’s a striking, original cover for a truly stunning book. We are thrilled with the response - the reveal video has already been watched over 10,000 times. As with our Leicester Square announcement, it’s amazing to see in real time the excited responses as the anticipation builds."
Bea Carvalho, fiction buyer for Waterstones, told The Bookseller she approved of the "iconic" cover: “As we rapidly approach this year’s biggest publication [Margaret Atwood's The Testaments], it’s exciting to finally be able to visualise next year’s. We have been waiting for The Mirror & the Light with baited breath for several years, and revealing the cover suddenly makes its arrival feel very real and imminent."
She added: "The 4th Estate team have come up with something really beautiful: a brand new direction which fits perfectly with the previous two books. It’s sure to become an iconic cover and raises the bar high for book design in 2020.”
Meanwhile The Bookseller’s creative editor Danny Arter also praised the design. “This cover is unusual—in a good way —for a couple of reasons,” he said. “First, there is little visually that links it to Hilary Mantel’s two previous novels in the trilogy, either in terms of typography or visual cues or colour schemes, which feels quite brave considering their enormous critical and commercial success. Second, it’s not as in-your-face ‘obvious’ as books by household-name writers can be: even the typography isn’t especially legible against the imagery used. It’s interesting to compare it to the new Margaret Atwood cover, which shows her name in big, bold upper-case type and is graphically very direct.
“This probably suggests that the publisher is trying to reach a new, potentially younger readership for Hilary Mantel; the typeface used feels very contemporary and the imagery is more akin to recent bestselling historical novels by Jessie Burton or Stacey Halls than more ‘predictable’ treatments in the historical genre for, say, Philippa Gregory, or C J Sansom. Perhaps the feeling is that the hoards of people who have read the two prequel books would buy this one regardless; it’s going to be enough of an ‘event’ book for it to not have to compete visually on bookshelves, really."
Arter believes that "it still feels like an adventurous cover and I think [art director] Julian Humphries has done brilliantly”.
The final Cromwell novel sees "Mantel bring to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies,” HarperCollins said in the original announcement. It traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell who rises from nothing to become a royal favourite.
Playground Entertainment is developing with the BBC an adaptation of The Mirror & the Light , following the adaptation of the BAFTA and Golden Globe winning television adaptation of Wolf Hall.
Mantel has written 14 books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, and the memoir Giving up the Ghost. Oxford Films has been commissioned by the BBC to make a film exploring the life and work of the author, to coincide with the publication of The Mirror & the Light. Overall she has sold more than 2 million books for £17.4m, according to Nieslen BookScan.