Hilary Mantel, Harriet Walter: the lives of others


Filed under: DramaFiction

Hilary Mantel and Harriet reflect on how they get to grips with a character, compare notes on capturing personality on the page and the stage.

In a recent Guardian interview, the actress Harriet Walter reflected on the impossibility of ever really knowing another human being. Yet, like the novelist Hilary Mantel, she has devoted her professional life to inhabiting characters not her own, often historical ones. Walter’s notable roles include Elizabeth I, Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra, while Mantel has twice won the Man Booker Prize for her extraordinary portrayal of Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies – adapted for the stage by the RSC, currently playing in the West End, and soon to be serialised on BBC2. In a conversation jointly hosted by the RSL and Intelligent Life magazine, and chaired by the playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, they reflect on how they get to grips with a character, compare notes on capturing personality on the page and the stage, and discuss how to maintain a sense of self while becoming someone else.

We are grateful to the Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation for supporting this event.

In partnership with Intelligent Life.

Recorded on: September 11, 2015
Recorded at: Union Chapel


Related RSL Fellows

Timberlake Wertenbaker 1999
Dame Hilary Mantel 1990
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