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Wales only mentioned in British history when the English were fighting there, says Hilary Mantel

05 Sep 2021 2 minutes Read
Hilary Mantel’s Facebook profile picture

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.”

‘Broken’

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.”

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Richard
Richard
1 month ago

Brexiteers’ bile isn’t going to make her any sorrier about leaving

Michael Rieveley
Michael Rieveley
1 month ago

Hilary Mantel gives an objective view of the UK and its current contradictions. It being neither united or displaying the welcoming characteristic that has in the past been an identifying signature of the British way.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

One of the few people in public life who really tells it like it is.

She also shows the value of studying history. The perspective it offers on our current condition.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

I agree, learning from history is very important. Just wish the UK Gov had done it before going into Afghanistan and wasting lives.

Tony Jones
Tony Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Yes, this is now the 4th time that the British Army has left Afghanistan having achieved nothing apart from a temporary regime change.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

Has anyone found this article reproduced in English anywhere? Looks like a great read.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Welsh_Sion

Diolch!!!

Robert Downing
Robert Downing
1 month ago

Wasn’t much better in most schools in Cymru either.

AMG
AMG
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Downing

History was governed by Westminster Education dept until devolution.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 month ago
Reply to  AMG

And yet Welsh history STILL isn’t compulsory in Welsh schools in 2021 as reported here on Nation.Cymru https://nation.cymru/news/deeply-regrettable-that-new-curriculum-will-pass-without-mandatory-welsh-history-element/

George Bodley
George Bodley
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Downing

Considering an english version was imposed in welsh schools overall remember the blue books and the replacement of welsh teachers with english ones

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

Well, if England had PR, we might see it in a better light. One could say that the enemy of all the brother nations, in the power-projection sense, are the “British”?

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

Unfortunately, English is now fully associated with British around the world and it is how the UK establishment wants it. Time for out.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

Nothing against the English just Westminster. I live in the Valleys, the poverty here is disgusting, totally unnecessary and solely down to Westminster. We can do better as an independent country and the argument we are not able to as been shown to be false, there are plenty of countries with smaller populations and GDP which are doing just fine.

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
1 month ago

Albania, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Montenegro, Luxembourg, Malta and Iceland each have fewer people than Wales. Bosnia-Herzegovina has about 37000 more.

If Wales leaves the UK, how many of the above countries do you foresee applying to fill the vacancy?

Last edited 1 month ago by Hannergylch
Hannergylch
Hannergylch
1 month ago
Reply to  Hannergylch

My apologies for the above non-sequitur. I wrote it to answer a question in a post that has since vanished. The vanished post asked if it’s possible for a country the size of Wales to exist outside a political union with a larger country.

scott chegwin
scott chegwin
1 month ago
Reply to  Hannergylch

Albania has a gdp per capita of about $5000 per year. Not the best example to use. 34% of the population live on less than $5.50 per day.

R W
R W
1 month ago
Reply to  scott chegwin

And despite that it still hasn’t gone bankrupt!! 😂

Iain Graham
Iain Graham
1 month ago

Just has Australians learn about Aboriginal people and Americans native Americans

George Bodley
George Bodley
1 month ago
Reply to  Iain Graham

From a immigrants point of view towards the natives

Iain Graham
Iain Graham
1 month ago
Reply to  George Bodley

A colonists view believing in bringing civilisation to savages

George Bodley
George Bodley
1 month ago

A lot of misinformation and downright lies written about the khumry thats down to little englanders redacting history

David Russell
David Russell
1 month ago

Perhaps she will give her title back if she finds living here so awful.

Richard Williams
Richard Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  David Russell

She was awarded an OBE and DBE for her contribution to English literature. She then won the Brooker Prize, which is the leading literary award in the English speaking world. Are you saying she should return these awards because she has dared to criticise the British Government?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

What Hilary Mantel says is true. If you allow others to write our place in history, the likelihood is they have the ability to erase us too.

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