Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation

Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: The Stage Adaptation

by Hilary Mantel, Mike Poulton

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Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell novels are the most formidable literary achievements of recent times, both recipients of the Man Booker Prize. Adapted by Mike Poulton, the plays were premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre, Straford-upon-Avon, in December 2013, directed by Jeremy Herrin.
This edition contains a substantial set of notes by Hilary Mantel on each of the principal characters, offering a unique insight into the plays and an invaluable resource to any theater companies wishing to stage them.
Wolf Hall begins in England in 1527. Henry has been King for almost twenty years and is desperate for a male heir; but Cardinal Wolsey cannot deliver the divorce he craves. Yet for a man with the right talents, this crisis could be an opportunity. Thomas Cromwell is a commoner who has risen in Wolsey's household—and he will stop at nothing to secure the King's desires and advance his own ambitions.
In Bring Up the Bodies, the volatile Anne Boleyn is now Queen, her career seemingly entwined with that of Cromwell. But when the King begins to fall in love with plain Jane Seymour, the ever-pragmatic Cromwell must negotiate within an increasingly perilous Court to satisfy Henry, defend the nation, and above all, to secure his own rise in the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250064189
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 02/24/2015
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 690,714
File size: 632 KB

About the Author

HILARY MANTEL is the author of thirteen books. Her two most recent novels, Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, have both been awarded the Man Booker Prize.

MIKE POULTON is an English translator and adapter of classic plays for contemporary audiences. He has written many successful translations and adaptations, including Ibsen's Rosmersholm, Schiller's Don Carlos, Luise Miller, and Wallenstein, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, and Malory's Morte D'Arthur, among others.

Hilary Mantel is the two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize for her best-selling novels, Wolf Hall, and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies. Both novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Mantel is the author of over a dozen books, including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, and the memoir Giving Up the Ghost. In 2014 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Mike Poulton is a playwright and translator. His work has been staged at the Donmar Warehouse, Old Vic, Almeida Theatre, and for the RSC, amongst others.

Read an Excerpt

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies

The Stage Adaptation

By Hilary Mantel


Copyright © 2009 Tertius Enterprises Ltd.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-06418-9




Scene One

Fanfares. A military dance for young men led by KING HENRY VIII, watched by KATHERINE OF ARAGON and PRINCESS MARY (twelve), who absent-mindedly says her rosary. MEN joined by LADIES. Music softens. KING HENRY dances with MARY BOLEYN. KATHERINE displeased. All eyes on ANNE BOLEYN (yellow dress) who dances with THOMAS WYATT. Then she rejects him and dances with HARRY PERCY – very lovingly – which makes WYATT angry. WYATT leaves. THOMAS WOLSEY enters with his train, followed by STEPHEN GARDINER, upstaging KING HENRY, in every way possible. Thunder and lightning. KING HENRY and KATHERINE go off with PRINCESS MARY. HARRY PERCY and ANNE BOLEYN exit together. It rains. Night falls. Scene becomes WOLSEY 's office.

THOMAS CROMWELL hurrying, wet, in riding gear.

STEPHEN scowls as he leaves.

STEPHEN. Cromwell. Late.

THOMAS. Yes – isn't it?

STEPHEN. No – I mean ... (Exasperated, he gives up and goes.)

THOMAS goes into WOLSEY's splendid golden room. Big fire. Shadows. MARK SMEATON plays the lute. WOLSEY sits with his back to us.

WOLSEY. Where were you when I needed you, Thomas?

THOMAS. In Yorkshire, Your Grace.

WOLSEY. Yorkshire?

THOMAS. Turbulent monks. You sent me there.

WOLSEY. You'll be hungry then. Fetch him something to eat. Cherries – he likes cherries.

SERVANT. There are no cherries, Your Grace.

WOLSEY. What? Why not?

SERVANT. It's April, Your Grace.

WOLSEY. Nonsense! It can't still be April! Why am I so ill-served? Sorry, Tom – no cherries. Well, bring him something – I don't know – a lettuce? Is there a lettuce? If you don't give this one his feed he'll tear the place down.

SERVANTS. appear to make THOMAS comfortabletake his wet coat, build up the fire, bring wine and food – giving the lie to WOLSEY's joke about being ill-served.

What else would you like?

THOMAS. I'd like the sun to come out.

WOLSEY. You ask a great deal. It's almost midnight.

THOMAS. Dawn would do.

WOLSEY. We shall try the power of prayer.

WOLSEY looks at the SERVANTS – the signal to withdraw. MARK stays.

The King called me this morning – early. (Yawns.) Exceptionally early.

THOMAS. What did he want?

WOLSEY. A son.

THOMAS. He's got one – young Richmond. And they say Mary Boleyn's boy is his.

WOLSEY. Might be. It squalls, and it's ginger. Look, forget Mary Boleyn – he needs a son born in wedlock. An heir to sit on his throne when he's gone.

THOMAS. His daughter won't do?

WOLSEY. What – Mary? A girl ruling England? Don't be absurd! Now you have a son – Gregory's a fine boy – I, God forgive me, have a boy of my own – every lord, every landed gentleman – every lackey can get boys ... Only the King can't seem to manage it. Whose fault is that?

THOMAS. God's.

WOLSEY. Nearer the King than God?

THOMAS. Queen Katherine?

WOLSEY. Nearer?

THOMAS. Yourself, Your Grace?

WOLSEY. Myself, My Grace. If the King lies awake at night, asking himself why his children die, the fault must be mine. Enough now, Mark.

Exit MARK.

Henry believes God won't give him sons because he and Katherine were never truly married.

THOMAS. He's just noticed? After eighteen years?

WOLSEY. He's reading his Bible. And though the Pope declared their marriage lawful – gave a dispensation – swept aside all impediment – in the Book of Leviticus the King has found the verse which forbids marriage with a brother's wife. Katherine was his brother's widow.

THOMAS. Then show him the contradictory verse. Deuteronomy says marrying your brother's widow is compulsory.

WOLSEY. The King doesn't like Deuteronomy. He prefers Leviticus. He says, 'If this is God's word, plainly written, no Pope has power to set it aside.'

THOMAS. Well, he's right there, isn't he?

WOLSEY. Is he?

THOMAS. You tell me – you're the Cardinal.

WOLSEY. I am a divided man: the Pope's voice in England – but first the King's loyal servant. Still ... If we go to work in the usual way – offer Pope Clement a – a –

THOMAS. A bribe?

WOLSEY. God forgive you, Tom! A loan.

THOMAS. He may grant the King an annulment.

WOLSEY. There are precedents. Gold finds its way into the Vatican and the King gets a new wife. One who can breed.

THOMAS. What does Queen Katherine get?

WOLSEY. Jesu! She doesn't even suspect. It will be me who has to tell her. The King won't deliver bad news – he delegates it.

THOMAS. You'll have to pick the right moment.

WOLSEY. There is no right moment. She'll say, 'I am the daughter of two reigning monarchs and they send a butcher's boy to tip me off my throne!'

THOMAS. Then she'll threaten you with her nephew – the Emperor –

WOLSEY. But Charles won't go to war over his old aunt? Surely not!

THOMAS. He doesn't need to go to war. He can blockade us – starve us out – cut off our trade. When winter comes he can hold back the grain ships – and we'll be at his mercy. If I were you –

WOLSEY. Cardinal Cromwell – in charge! What a world that would be!

THOMAS. If I were you, I'd deal with the King's case here in London. You have the Pope's authority – get him his divorce before Europe wakes up to what's happening.

WOLSEY. When Europe wakes up it may break this country apart.

THOMAS. Then tell that to the King. He listens to you. He always has.

WOLSEY. He's listening to his conscience now. Which is an active one – a tender one.

THOMAS. Then ... (Taking this in.) He's sincere in this matter?

WOLSEY. The King always believes what he says – at the time he's saying it. You know, Katherine and Arthur, they were children when they were married. Fifteen. Katherine always swore they lay beside each other chaste. Like brother and sister saying their prayers. She swears Arthur never touched her. Henry believed she came to him a virgin.

THOMAS. Couldn't he tell?

WOLSEY. He was a boy – seventeen! He was in love with her – how could he tell? Could you tell – the first time you ... I know I couldn't! Anyway it suited him to believe her.

THOMAS. And now it doesn't.

WOLSEY. Still ... if I do part him from Katherine, I could marry him smartly to a French princess.

THOMAS. You'd have to. We'd need the French as allies.

WOLSEY. Never a good position to be in!

THOMAS. If you do separate them, where will Katherine go?

WOLSEY. She's very pious. Convents can be comfortable.

THOMAS. What if she won't budge?

WOLSEY (yawns). Go home now, Tom. (Calling to SERVANTS.) Send Rafe Sadler in here! Your ward's been waiting for hours. Ah, Rafe –


RAFE. Your Grace. I wish you'd talk to God about the weather. It's been raining for three years.

WOLSEY. I'll see what I can do. Take this man home to his family.

Starts to usher them out.

RAFE. We've missed him, sir. How was Yorkshire?

WOLSEY. Yes – how was Yorkshire? Did we get the money?

THOMAS. Your project's disliked there.

WOLSEY. I have the Pope's authority for it.

THOMAS. The Pope's no help when it comes to converting monks into cash.

WOLSEY. Thirty ill-run, over-wealthy monasteries must – and shall – amalgamate with larger well-run ones – like it or not. They are ill-run, aren't they?

THOMAS. Yes – treasure flows in at the front door, whores sneak out at the back –

WOLSEY. What became of poverty, chastity and obedience? Thomas, I need those funds – for my Oxford College and the school at Ipswich – my monument – my legacy when I'm gone.

RAFE. Ipswich, Your Grace?

WOLSEY. The town of my birth. Inglorious in every other respect. Go home now.

THOMAS. The laws relating to land –

WOLSEY. The law is an instrument for saying 'no'. I want to hear you say 'yes'. Find a way.

THOMAS. The Yorkshire gentry threatened to kill me.

WOLSEY. You don't look particularly killed. I may have to go to Yorkshire myself. I've often wondered what it's like. What do they eat up there?

THOMAS. Londoners when they have a chance.

WOLSEY. ... but do they have any lemons.

RAFE. But surely ... Your Grace is Archbishop of York? Were you never enthroned?

WOLSEY. When have I ever had time for my own spiritual affairs? Home! Come early tomorrow.

THOMAS (struck by a thought). You say the King is reading the Scriptures? Is he reading them in English?

WOLSEY. That ... is forbidden.

THOMAS. Not to the King.

WOLSEY. Careful, Tom. Walls have ears. God bless you both.

They kneel, kiss WOLSEY 's ring, and leave. WOLSEY is robed, goes into his chapel and prays hard. A downpour. THOMAS and RAFE are escorted home to Austin Friars by WOLSEY 's LINKBOYS and GUARDS.

Scene Two

Home. THOMAS greets ELIZABETH (LIZ) CROMWELL, his wife. A good fire.

LIZ. Forget where you live?

CHRISTOPHE takes the wet clothes.

THOMAS (relieved to be home with her). Oh, Lizzie ...

LIZ. How was Yorkshire?

THOMAS. Oh, Lizzie ...

LIZ. You went straight to the Cardinal?

CHRISTOPHE brings drinkexits. LIZ gives THOMAS the cup, they both drink from it, embrace. They've been apart a long time.

THOMAS. The children?

LIZ. Blossoming. Anne wants to learn Greek. Grace wants to be an angel, and here's a letter from Gregory. It's in Latin.

THOMAS. Of sorts. (Reads.) 'Dear Father, I hope you are well. I hope my mother and my lovely sisters, Anne and Grace, are well. I hope your dogs are well. And now no more for lack of time. Your dutiful son, Gregory Cromwell.' Our son is no Cicero. Well, thank God he's not like I was at his age –

LIZ. What were you like?

THOMAS. I used to stick knives in people ... What's new in London?

LIZ. The word on Cheapside is, the King's bought a huge emerald –

THOMAS (opening his letters). Has he? I wonder how much he paid for it –

LIZ. It's the size of a sparrow's egg. (Shows him.) It's that big.

THOMAS. Well, he's a big king, isn't he?

LIZ. It's not for him. It's for a woman – a woman's ring. So ... who's the lady?

THOMAS. Queen Katherine. Surely?

LIZZIE (scrutinising him). You weasel! You've heard, haven't you?

THOMAS (innocent). You don't hear anything in Yorkshire.

LIZ. They're saying the King wants to do something very strange. And wrong. They say he wants to divorce the Queen? Is it true? – Because if it is, he'll set half the world against him.

THOMAS. Yes – Spain – the Emperor –

LIZ. No. I mean the women. All the women who have lost their children – all women who have daughters but no sons – all women who are forty ...

THOMAS. It's just London gossip. Wolsey says the King is reading his Bible. If he's reading it in English that would be a great thing for us. All of us – men and women?

LIZ. Tom ... I've something to tell you.

THOMAS's hackles rise.

Thomas More has been here –

THOMAS. Jesus! (Incensed.) Did he threaten you? I'll kill him –

LIZ. He was very civil – courteous – you know his manner –

THOMAS. With the Bishop's men at his back?

LIZ (nods). He said, 'Your husband won't mind if I look through his library.'

THOMAS. Oh! (Takes this in.) He didn't find Martin Luther?

LIZ. No – you've Rafe to thank for that. But I wish you wouldn't keep those books in the house.

CHRISTOPHE brings THOMAS's night clothes, a candle, etc.

THOMAS. I'll find a safer place for them ... I might just ... open a few more letters –

LIZ. You'll do no such thing! (Going.) It's three o'clock. You'll come to bed. Tell him, Christophe.

CHRISTOPHE. Go to bed now, master, or the mistress will beat me.

THOMAS (half to himself). If the King's in the market for large emeralds, he's in the market for a new mistress. 'So who's the lady?' Poor Mary Boleyn! He must be tiring of her –

CHRISTOPHE. And I myself wish to sleep. But until my master sleeps –

LIZ (off). Thomas – come to bed.

House in darkness – silence.

Scene Three

MONKS chanting. The Charterhouse. Dawn. THOMAS

MORE, strips to the waist, kneels before a crucifix. He begins to flog himself.


Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa!

Hide not Thy face from me, O Lord, on a day when I am sore troubled.
I am like an owl of the desert – mine enemies reproach me –
I mingle my drink with weeping – my bread turns to ashes in my mouth –
Because of Thine indignation against me and Thy wrath.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Scene Four

Austin Friars. Next morning. Household bustle. CHRISTOPHE sharpening a razor. The house still dark, coming to life. Candles. LIZ, doing six things at once.

THOMAS. Morning, Rafe. Sun shining?

RAFE. Bucketing down, sir. (Slaps down a satchel of books.)

THOMAS. Wolsey's losing his touch.

CHRISTOPHE (yawns). I shave you?

THOMAS. No, you stay away from me – I lost enough blood in Yorkshire. (Unwraps the books.)

RAFE. Brother Martin Luther – and William Tyndale.

THOMAS. His Testament in English. Where did you hide them? (Starts to read.)

CHRISTOPHE opens the shutters.

RAFE. In little Grace's bed with little Grace on top of them. When the Bishop's men looked in I was bathing her head. 'Not too close,' I said, 'she has a fever.' And they ran.

LIZ. Those books – Out of my house – This morning.

RAFE. I'll take them to Gray's Inn.

LIZ. It's true about the fever, though – two deaths last week in Southwark –

THOMAS. Well ... south of the river ... It's only April – too early for the sweating sickness.

He slaps his book shut. RAFE puts it in the satchel.

They go towards York Place. CHRISTOPHE, half-asleep, grabs a loaf, carries THOMAS's papers.

RAFE. Thomas More took us by surprise.

THOMAS. I put you at risk.

RAFE. Isn't it wrong? That the word of God can breed such hatred?

THOMAS. Think about it – we're all intelligent men here –

CHRISTOPHE (with half a loaf in his mouth). Hun ... mung ... un ... ungligent –


THOMAS. Well, you and I are intelligent men. Christ said, 'I come not to bring peace but a sword.'

RAFE. Give me some of that. You're a pig, Christophe –


MORE shambles on, unnoticed, with a couple of HEAVIES – untidy, unkempt – buttons undone. He carries books and papers.

THOMAS. Thomas More's living in a world long gone. He believes you stop men thinking by burning their books.

RAFE. But God invented the printing press.

THOMAS. The word is turning and More's left standing –

RAFE. Let's hope he's never raised to high office. Or we'll all –

MORE. Cromwell! Just the man I need!

THOMAS. Sir Thomas More. I hear you came looking for me. (Takes the satchel from RAFE.)

MORE. You were not at home. (Good-naturedly.) Neither were the heretic books you bring in from Germany. Where've you hidden them? At Gray's Inn?

THOMAS. You'll find nothing heretical on my shelves.

MORE. Well ... your conscience is your own concern. You could be very useful to me, you know? You've lived in Antwerp? You know the heretic Tyndale.

THOMAS. I know of him. They say he's translating the Gospels into English –

MORE. False translations. Wicked, misleading deceptions.

RAFE. Why don't you translate the Gospels yourself, sir?

THOMAS. He distrusts the English language. If his native tongue had a neck, Master More would wring it.

MORE. It would help me greatly if you'd cross over and speak to Tyndale –

THOMAS. I serve the Cardinal –

MORE. I ask myself why? It's well known you're no friend to priests, yet you make yourself a willing drudge for the most corrupt priest in Christendom. Work with me. Persuade Tyndale to come home. For ... an exchange of views – to end any misunderstanding between us.

THOMAS. In your torture chamber?

MORE. Oh, come! That's a slander. What need have I of a torture chamber?

THOMAS. Men go into your house hale and hearty – they come out half-dead.

MORE (thinkslooks as if he's going to say something profound. But:). Must be my wife's cooking. (Nasty laugh.) Come to Chelsea. Bring young Sadler with you. The food may not be of the quality, and I may say quantity, you're used to at the Cardinal's table, but the talk is excellent.

THOMAS. I'll think it over.

MORE. If Wolsey comes down, his dog will need a new master. Come to my whistle, boy – we should be friends. And let Tyndale know that if he won't come home I'll fetch him.


Excerpted from Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Copyright © 2009 Tertius Enterprises Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Picador.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Introduction by Mike Poulton,
Notes on Characters by Hilary Mantel,
Act One,
Act Two,
Act Three,
Act Four,
Act One,
Act Two,
Act Three,
Act Four,
Act Five,
About the Authors,

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