The remarkable generosity of Hilary Mantel will not be forgotten

<span>Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

Re your editorial on Hilary Mantel (The Guardian view on Hilary Mantel: a glorious original, 23 September), when in 2020 I started a large textile project inspired by her Cromwell trilogy, it was initially a way to keep myself occupied during lockdown. As the project progressed, and grew ever more ambitious, I started to worry about using someone else’s work as inspiration, and felt I should seek permission. I nervously wrote to Hilary’s agent, explaining what I was doing and hoping she wouldn’t mind.

Four hours later I had an email from Hilary herself, expressing interest and encouragement, and asking me to keep in touch as my stitching developed. Over the last couple of years, we corresponded by email. She was unfailingly encouraging, kind and generous, shared personal stories, and seemed genuinely touched that a textile artist was stitching her work. I was last in contact with her 10 days ago, when I emailed her about the next part of my Cromwell project: working with yellow satin to create a piece inspired by Cromwell’s own “quylte of yelow Turquye Saten”.

The last thing she wrote to me was: “I look forward to hearing about the yellow satin.” I am devastated that she is no longer here to see it, and that there will be no more of her glorious writing, her sharp wit and her stretching of the imagination. She was a truly wonderful writer, and I will miss her enormously.
Lucie Bea Dutton
Ealing, London

• You will be besieged with letters testifying to the brilliance of Hilary Mantel (Obituary, 23 September). Let me add an example of her generosity. I was able to get a book of mine sent to her in the hope that she might offer that all-important blurb. Time ran out, and I wrote tentatively to ask if she had had time to read it. She had not; she was sorry.

The next morning an email arrived: she had sat up into the night in order to read every word. The quotation she gave me was exquisitely turned; the email in which it arrived even more so – a short story unto itself that I will treasure. The next morning she wrote again, offering a small adjustment. Each communication was signed “with love”. We had never met but, somehow, I believed her. Hers was writing one could always believe.
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