BORDERS Book Festival Director Alistair Moffat has led tributes to Dame Hilary Mantel following the news of her death aged 70 last week.

The acclaimed writer who was best known for the Wolf Hall trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell, was a regular visitor to the Borders Book Festival and twice won the prestigious Walter Scott prize for historic fiction.

In 2010 she won with Wolf Hall then in 2021 repeated her feat with The Mirror & The Light.

The other book in the trilogy Bring Up The Bodies was shortlisted in 2013 but lost out to Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists.

Mr Moffat said: “It was a real shock to learn the news and I feel very sad for her husband Gerald and her family. Hilary was a giant and probably the greatest historical fiction writer since Sir Walter Scott. And she had a great connection with the Borders having won the first Walter Scott Prize with Wolf Hall.

“She was at Abbotsford in November last year and her performance was fantastic. She was so thoughtful and considered her responses to questions and didn’t just provide stock answers.

“She also presented the Young Walter Scott prize and all the young writers worshipped her.

“But she leaves behind a towering body of work and she will be missed.”

Publisher HarperCollins announced in a statement that she died on Thursday September 22 “suddenly yet peacefully”, surrounded by close family and friends.

HarperCollins added: “Hilary Mantel was one of the greatest English novelists of this century and her beloved works are considered modern classics. She will be greatly missed.”

Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted: “We’ve lost a genius”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted “it is impossible to overstate the significance of the literary legacy Hilary Mantel leaves behind”.

She added: “Her brilliant Wolf Hall trilogy was the crowning achievement in an outstanding body of work. Rest in peace.”

The Booker Prizes tweeted that they were “deeply saddened” to hear of the death of the late author and sent their “sincere condolences” to her family, friends and colleagues.