(Stevens’s article appeared in the Daily Mail, 1/21; via Patricia N. Saffran.)

There’s something oddly familiar about Shakespearean heavyweight Mark Rylance, as Thomas Cromwell, the central figure in BBC2’s Wolf Hall.

His insolence, the edge of sarcasm as he addresses ‘my lord’ or ‘my lady’, and, above all, the hint of a nasal whine in his London vowels… this blacksmith’s son resembled Blackadder’s devious servant Baldrick. But of course Cromwell’s plans are far more cunning.

The dash of humour is what makes Hilary Mantel’s two Booker-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, set in the maelstrom of Tudor politics, so entertaining.

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