Hilary Mantel: Mistaken or misread?

William JordanUS Elections Editor
February 20, 2013, 5:38 PM GMT+0

On Tuesday, the Daily Mail ran a front-page story accusing award-winning novelist Hilary Mantel of a “venomous attack” on the Duchess of Cambridge in a lecture she gave for the London Review of Books that referred to Kate as appearing “to have been designed by committee and built by craftsmen.”

CRITICS of the lecture have acknowledged Mantel’s prowess as a writer, but insist that she was unfair to the duchess. Tim Stanley of The Daily Telegraph says that Mantel—though “a brilliant biographer”—gave a lecture that was “snobby, inaccurate and oddly sexist” which portrays “women as the passive victims of chauvinist institutions(...)" PM David Cameron also seemed to think Mantel is talented, but mistaken: "I think she writes great books, but I think what she's said about Kate Middleton is completely misguided and completely wrong. What I've seen of Princess Kate at public events, at the Olympics and elsewhere is this is someone who's bright, who's engaging, who's a fantastic ambassador for Britain(...)"

DEFENDERS of Mantel say that she has been misunderstood, and that the lecture wasn’t really an attack on Kate at all. Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman attributes the controversy to “lazy journalism and raging hypocrisy” and says that Mantel was merely making the “patently obvious points that Kate's entire raison d'être now, in the eyes of the media and the royal family, is to be admired and to breed, just as Anne Boleyn's had been(...)"

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