Two of Hilary Mantel’s finest novels, adapted for BBC Radio 4 – plus an exclusive short story

One of the 21st century’s most celebrated authors, Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize twice: for 2009’s Wolf Hall, the first in her phenomenally successful Thomas Cromwell trilogy, and its 2012 sequel Bring Up the Bodies. The third novel in the series, 2020’s The Mirror and the Light, won the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. This collection includes three of her best works of contemporary fiction, ranging from the Gothic to the blackly comic.

Fludd – Hilary Mantel reads her own abridged novel, set in the dour northern mill town of Fetherhoughton in the 1950s. Presiding over the community are Father Angwin, a Catholic priest who has lost his faith in God (but still believes in the Devil) and Mother Perpetua, the head of the local convent. Then, one day, the mysterious Fludd appears – and miracles begin to happen…. Winner of the 1989 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, this is a magically inventive tale of faith, alchemy and transformation.

Beyond Black – Starring Alison Steadman, this dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s witty, sinister novel introduces us to Alison Hart, an awkward, obese medium who spends her life touring suburban London’s psychic fairs with her efficient but heartless assistant, Colette. Aided by her disgusting spirit guide Morris, she passes on reassuring messages from the other side – but offstage, she is haunted by her own malevolent ghosts. To banish them, she must confront the painful truth about her troubled past….

‘In a Right State’ – A homeless, lonely old lady packs all her possessions into two faint-striped, shapeless bags and takes herself off to A & E. Sitting in the waiting room, she gives us her wry observations on the other ‘habitu s’ – while sharing her own unlikely memories and the odd bad joke. Inspired by Alan Bennett’s diaries, this beautifully drawn, witty and poignant tale was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story award, and is read by Miriam Margolyes.