Winter School - Hilary Mantel and Thomas Cromwell

Explore the world of Hilary Mantel’s blockbusters with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s three day special event on Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII and William Shakespeare

03 September 2013

Fans of the award-winning novels by Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, will have a rare opportunity to see some of the historical treasures associated with Thomas Cromwell at a special three day event organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on 21-23 January.  The charity’s ‘Winter School’ seminar will coincide with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s dramatisation of Mantel’s novels, and promises a feast of historical, critical and literary insights into the world of Cromwell, Henry VIII and William Shakespeare.

Everyone attending the Winter School will have a chance to examine the fourth edition of the Great Cranmer Bible from 1541 with its ornate title page featuring pictures of Henry VIII, Archbishop Cranmer and Cromwell as well as the erased markings of Cromwell’s coat of arms.  This Bible is a cornerstone of Cromwell’s legacy as he championed an English edition in every church.  Other artefacts from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s international museum and archive collection, which houses one million literary-related documents, includes a survey of the lands owned by Cromwell when he was Earl of Essex, and the 1664 third folio of Shakespeare’s works which includes the 1602 play The History of Thomas Lord Cromwell  – previously believed to be written by Shakespeare.

Author Dr Penny Freedman, who lectures on Shakespeare in performance and Dr Miriam Gilbert former University of Iowa professor and Shakespeare scholar, will present historical and critical analysis of Mantel’s novels. Dr Catherine Alexander, Honorary Research Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute University of Birmingham, will look at Shakespeare’s own treatment of Henry VIII in All is True.  Dr Peter Kirwan from the University of Nottingham will be sharing his knowledge about the play The History of Thomas Lord Cromwell, where there will also be the opportunity to discuss both of Mantel’s productions and put questions to members of the acting company.

Dr Nick Walton, Shakespeare Courses Development Manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “This year’s Winter School provides a wonderful opportunity to explore some of the richest historical characters brought to life by two great writers in a literary and dramatic tradition that stretches from Shakespeare to today’s contemporary best-sellers.

“Cromwell is an intriguing and complex character – mercenary, businessman, lawyer, statesman – and it will be fascinating to explore Mantel’s compelling portrait alongside archive materials that will bring his world vividly to life”.


Notes to editors:
Press release date: 17 September 2013. For more information please contact Press and Public Affairs Officer Nurinder Mantell on 01789 207136 or email