A photo of a mysterious billboard in Leicester Square has sparked speculation online that 4th Estate has just dropped a major hint of imminent news on the long-awaited final novel in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy.
On Tuesday (21st May), Waterstones Piccadilly sparked excitement online when it tweeted out a prominent sign (pictured below), said to be spotted in London's Leicester Square, which appeared to hint at news on the novel, titled The Mirror and the Light. The sign, featuring the Tudor rose used in the design of the previous books, reads: “So now get up”, the initial line of the first Cromwell novel Wolf Hall, published by 4th Estate in 2009. It carries no other wording. The tweet read: "That rose. That line. Oh my god is the new Hilary Mantel finally coming?!?!"
The billboard image is not currently visible on the Leicester Square site, with a range of other advertisements showing on a digital loop outside the Vue Cinema.
The tweet was liked around 400 times within a few hours with various people in books industry responding in excitement. Raven Books publisher Alison Hennessey said: “Oh god, please.” Author Paraic O’Donnell tweeted: “Sees notification* *Veers across three lanes of traffic* *Plunges into storm drain* OMG THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.” Fellow writer Kate Collins said: “Life officially on hold until I have an answer.”
However a spokesperson for HarperCollins, of which 4th Estate is an imprint, told The Bookseller they had no comment to give on the matter, while Mantel's agent and editor were unavailable.
The two-time Man Booker winner’s final book of the trilogy is expected to cover the last four years of Cromwell’s life from Anne Boleyn’s execution in 1536 to Cromwell’s execution. According to its listing on the Book Depository site, the title is 450 pages long, shorter than the 559-page Wolf Hall and slightly longer than the 434-page Bring Up the Bodies.
In July 2017, the author avoided giving a definite time for publication during a recording of the Reith Lectures for the BBC. Mantel, who received a damehood in 2015, said one reason for the delay, as well as the stage and TV adaptations, was meeting her readers’ considerable expectations. She said: “It is 10 years worth of effort and it is lovely to have the encouragement of people who are waiting for it but that’s why I want to deliver them something that is the very best.”
She denied feeling sentimental about killing off her protagonist. She said during the lecture: “As soon as he’s dead he will get up, put on his head again and charge onto the TV screen with – we hope, Mark Rylance – and quite possibly there will be another stage play. So it’s simply a waystation on his road to triumph.”
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (both published by 4th Estate) were adapted by the BBC for a series starring Mark Rylance and broadcast in 2015. Both novels won the Man Booker Prize in 2009 and 2012 respectively.
Publishing director at 4th Estate Nicholas Pearson has edited Mantel previously. Mantel is represented by Bill Hamilton at AM Heath.