Dame Hilary auctions ‘Wolf Hall’ desk for Budleigh Literary Festival in book boost for kids

The desk where Dame Hilary Mantel wrote her twice Booker Prize winning Wolf Hall trilogy and other novels has been sold to raise funds for the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival.

Dame Hilary, who is president of the literary festival, donated the £4,200 sale proceeds to support the event’s charitable work, which includes encouraging children and young people to develop a lifelong love of reading through taking authors into schools and donating free books.

The award-winning author credited the pine desk, which was specially designed for Dame Hilary, to her book successes.

She said: “It has served me well and has a great record of turning out prize winners”.

The author, who wrote many of her world-renowned novels while living in Budleigh, sat at the desk to write A Change of Climate in 1994, including Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies and The Mirror and the Light.

She decided to sell desk because it will not fit into her new home in Ireland.

Sue Briggs, chair of Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, said: “We’re very grateful to Dame Hilary for donating the proceeds of the desk sale to the festival.

“Our charitable aims include promoting a love of books and reading to young people and this donation will go a long way to helping us develop this work further.”

She added: “This year the festival is also providing as many children as it can in the region with a free book, in response to the National Literacy Trust’s findings that in some areas of the UK one in 11 children has not a single book at home.

“Covid restrictions and the loss of school days will only have made engagement in reading more challenging, so the proceeds from this auction will enable us to make a huge difference to children’s lives and their futures.”

A spokeswoman for Dame Hilary said: “She decided to part with the desk because she and her husband, Gerald McEwen, are moving to Ireland and she no longer needs a desk this size in her new property.”


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