Dame Hilary Mantel sells her desk and raises money for the Festival

Our President, Dame Hilary Mantel, has auctioned the desk at which she wrote her twice Booker Prize winning trilogy and other novels at Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscript.

At the sale in London in June the reserve price was smashed and the desk went under the hammer for over £4000. The funds raised will go towards supporting the Festival's literacy outreach work in the area.

The pine desk – specially made for the world-renowned writer in a workshop in Norfolk - has produced all her novels since A Change of Climate in 1994, including Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies and The Mirror and the Light. In Dame Hilary’s own words: ‘It has served me well and has a great record of turning out prize winners.’

Bonhams Head of Books and Manuscripts Matthew Haley said: 'It’s a tremendous honour to be entrusted with the sale of this very special desk. Hilary Mantel is one of the true greats of modern English literature with a marvellous ability to appeal to a very wide range of readers'

Hilary Mantel decided to part with the pedestal desk, which comes in three parts for easier transportation, because she and her husband Gerald McEwen are moving to Ireland and she no longer needed a desk this size in her new property. As President of the Festival, she decided to offer it up for auction to support the Festival’s work in schools in the region.

The highest bidder will also find some extras in the desk drawers, as mementoes of her illustrious writing career while seated at it crafting her best-selling novels.

The Literary Festival, which runs for 5 days in September, is a charity and takes authors free of charge into schools to engage children in reading for pleasure and all the benefits that brings in terms of well-being, literacy and life chances. This year the Festival is also providing as many children as it can in the region with a free book, responding to the National Literacy Trust’s findings that 1 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,’ says the Festival’s Artistic Director, Annie Ashworth, ‘and the proceeds from this auction will enable us to make a huge difference to children’s lives and their futures.’