By now you’ve probably heard of this speech Hilary Mantel (author of the fantastic Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies) made at the British Museum for the London Review of Books. That was two weeks ago, but I guess today’s a slow news day. Anyway, it’s a brilliant and insightful piece regarding how royal women are viewed by the media and by the public in general — for example, Kate Middleton, and in the past, Marie Antoinette and the wives of Henry VIII.
Yet it is somehow being taken as Mantel’s personal opinions and attacks on said women. Oh my goodness. She was speaking metaphorically, y’all.
Here’s what the Daily
Fail Mail got out of it.
Here’s what David Cameron got out of it.
Here’s* how Mantel is being attacked on Facebook, Twitter, etc:
- “I’m possibly thinking you’re jealous of Kate as you seem to be the love child of Yoda and Gollum #jealousuglybird” (@RollsyMTB)
- “comes across as a simpleton with some ignorant views she should keep to herself.” (@LaurenceSparks1)
- “the women [sic] looks like an ugly Gail Platt” (@HollywoodHux)
- “maybe the hag needs to look at her owlish self” (FB)
- “you hate munger [sic] you after cheap publicity you silver spoon b*tch” (FB, from Mantel’s official FB page)
- “don’t think Hilary is in a position to speak on bodyweight issues. #glasshouses” (@awongsuwarn)
- “what a stupid woman – it sounds like envy to me” (@acimmortal)
- “needs a saucer of milk” (FB)
- “possibly most repulsive looking woman in history. lay off kate, look in the mirror.” (@samdeville)
- “needs to go and see a dentist before making any further comments on the Duchess of Cambridge”” (@NathanJohn96)
- “what a joke! Too many donuts, love.” (@ldyroza)
- “such a dog hahahaha jealousy really is a green/(blue) eyed monster .. Kate’s perfect, she’s nobody to talk.. silly b*tch, she’s such an ugly, thick, jealous mug.” (@Emilyjems)
- “should really look in a mirror before criticising kate middleton’s look. Hilary looks like a mad parrot at the best of times” (@EaglesField63)
- “tidal wave over London oops sorry hilary mantel has to get help out of bath !!!” (@sues1961)
- “Hilary mantel!! Gets jaws wired after being too fat also has to buy three airplane seats hilary mantel big heffer !!!” (@sues1961 again, who is quite fond of exclamation points)
- “Calling Kate Middleton plastic.. You having a giraffe… get to weight watchers” (@Sarasaralindsay)
- “Wonder if Mantel realises how those reported comments make her look- miserable, jealous old cow about covers it” (@kirsteenpeel)
- “you look like BLOB city, what right do you have to criticize anyone” (FB, from Mantel’s official FB page)
- “Self indulgent & turgid. People in fat houses shouldn’t throw stones.” (@Globalpolitic)
- “looks like a demented puppet who has had her make up applied by someone with Parkinson’s disease.” (@KB1rangutten)
- “too bad we don’t behead her sort anymore” (FB)
- “If I had a face like Hilary Mantel I’d be slagging off everyone let alone Kate Middleton to divert attention!” (@laugh_yenot)
- “Hilary Mantel’s arrogance is only matched by the size of her arse” (@stuiewood)
- “how dare you, the duchess of Cambridge is ten times then woman you are. You look like you belong in a shop window.” (@womanizer_96)
- “has a face like a stuntmans’s [sic] knee” (@realshanerichie, who seems to be a celebrity of sorts but I’ve never heard of him)
“the woman who made not nice comments about the Duchess of Cambridge, is just a jealous fat ginger nobody.” (@Foxesbird80)
- “writes literary books that many say they’ve read but few have. Nasty, silly woman who attacks those who can’t reply.” (FB)
- “you bitter old b*tch” (@GregBickerdike)
- “she should be thankful to live in a country and a time where she will not be hauled off to prison or worse for what she has said” (FB)
- “as ugly on the outside as she is on the inside?” (@GiveaDougaBone)
- “How dare you attack our Kate – One aught to take a look in the mirror dear.” (@ManUtdSince1965)
- “looks like a reject extra from The Witches” (@sheparoo)
- “probably the most ugly human in the country so how can she judge kate who is the definition of perfect” (@mcbainsandy)
- “Why can someone so intelligent come across so vindictive and stupid? (@Sidane1966)
- “Come on, let’s all be nasty about Hillary Mantel. I’ll go first: she’s got a big, round head and rather waspy teeth. There! Now your turn.” (@angus_donald, a historical fiction novelist, no less.)
- “Maybe this picture of Hilary Mantel explains why she’s ragging on Kate for being a mannequin for clothes … http://twitpic.com/c57brb” (@Margoandhow, advice columnist Margo Howard “Dear Margo,” daughter of Ann Landers. I have some advice for Margo…)
This Two-Minutes Hate has been whirling across cyberspace all morning. Do you see yourself in any of these? Or have your comments been intelligently crafted, whether or not you agree?
And further, have you read her entire speech — again, a comment on how Kate and the other women are viewed especially by the press, not how Mantel views them — first?
We must remember that she was speaking at the London Review of Books, not in a general press conference or to OK Magazine or the like. On their site, they state that “The special appeal of the LRB lies in the way it combines topicality with depth and scholarship with good writing, and isn’t afraid to challenge received ideas.” Mantel was, at the very least, speaking with her audience in mind. Her words were quite nuanced, hence the debate in some cases.
This quote from Matthew Norman in this Independent article sums it up well: “Given the sublime precision with which she chooses her words in print, you might argue that Mantel should have spelt her meaning out in metaphorical block capitals for the hard of comprehending. But why the hell should such a clever woman dumb herself down on the off chance that an obscure speech sponsored by the London Review of Books might meander its way a fortnight later into the block capitals of a Daily Mail headline (A Plastic Princess Designed To Breed)?”
The abusive language, profanity, physical digs, etc that are circulating are infuriating and sad. My first inclination is to say this is the most passion that history may have ignited since the uncut episodes of “The Tudors” — except that this has turned into something quite horrible.
* Am I bullying by posting Twitter handles/names? No, I’m citing my sources.