Wales only mentioned in British history when the English were fighting there, says Hilary Mantel
Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel has taken aim at the way Welsh history is portrayed in British history, saying that the nation is only mentioned when the English were fighting battles there.
The author best known for her trilogy of books about Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power said that she learnt nothing at school about the other parts of the Isles of Great Britain.
She told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper that she hoped to leave England and move to the Republic of Ireland, and become “European again”.
She described the United Kingdom as “an artificial and precarious construct. It’s not holy, and it’s not even old”.
“As a child I learned nothing about the history of other parts of these islands,” she said.
“Wales and Scotland were only mentioned when the English were fighting battles there; they were destined to be conquered, and added on to the more important territory, their complex histories dwindling into childish narratives consumed by tourists.
“I have always been alive to the way that the word ‘England’ is used to include the other nations, a habit that says everything about underlying attitudes.”
Turning to present-day events, she said that she was “ashamed” of Brexit Britain.
“We see the ugly face of contemporary Britain in the people on the beaches abusing exhausted refugees even as they scramble to the shore. It makes one ashamed,” she added.
“And ashamed, of course, to be living in the nation that elected this government, and allows itself to be led by it.
“Our present government sends mixed signals – boasting of ‘global Britain’, while at the same time diminishing the country’s standing by cutting foreign aid, as if this was a broken little country that couldn’t afford to keep its promises.”