Wolf Hall (HarperCollins), Hilary Mantel’s first book in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, has won the public poll run by the Walter Scott Prize to find the UK’s favourite historical novel of all time.
Wolf Hall won the first Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in 2010. Second on the list is the classic Roman adventure story The Eagle of the Ninth (Oxford University Press) by Rosemary Sutcliff, closely followed by Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings (Penguin), first published in 1954 and 1961 respectively.
The prize launched its poll in November, asking members of the public to nominate their favourite books on its website. Hundreds of nominations were received and more contemporary authors made up the majority of the nominations, including many of those shortlisted by the Walter Scott Prize, such as Sebastian Barry, Andrew Miller, Eleanor Catton, Patrick Gale, Sarah Waters and Hannah Kent, organisers said. A shortlist of 10 novels was drawn up, and the public were invited to vote for their favourite.
The winning title, Wolf Hall, was published in 2009 to huge critical acclaim, winning many awards including the Man Booker Prize. It has sold 1,027,278 copies across all print editions according to Nielsen BookScan. The final Cromwell novel, The Mirror & the Light, is due to be published by HarperCollins in March.
Elizabeth Buccleuch, The Duchess of Buccleuch, who is also the prize's co-founder and judge, said: "As we all eagerly await the third volume of Hilary Mantel’s magnificent saga, I’m delighted that readers have voted the first, Wolf Hall, as their favourite historical novel of all time.
"The Walter Scott Prize launched the poll to find the nation’s favourite historical novel to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, so it’s a double celebration that the poll has been won by Wolf Hall, the prize’s very first winner.
"Our poll has reminded us all of the riches produced by writers of historical fiction over the centuries, from the works of Walter Scott himself, to milestone books by Rosemary Sutcliff and Dorothy Dunnett, right up to the present day with authors such as Sebastian Barry, Eleanor Catton and Sarah Waters gracing the list of nominations. And what a wonderful coincidence that the top three books in our poll are by women."