BEST-selling author Hilary Mantel, who has been made a dame for services to literature, said she saw the honour as "encouragement for the future".

The writer, whose novels about the life of King Henry VIII's adviser Thomas Cromwell have been critical and commercial hits, already has a CBE.

She said: "I'm delighted to receive this honour. It's given for 'services to literature,' but I see it not so much as a reward for the past, more as encouragement for the future. It means a great deal to have my efforts recognised, especially as I feel I've come to a new phase in my creative life. I hope it will please the many people who have helped me."

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Success has come late to the 61-year-old novelist, but she has more than made up for it by collecting a haul of literary honours including twice winning the Man Booker Prize.

She is working on the final book in her Cromwell trilogy and the first two - Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies - are currently on stage in London and being made into a BBC drama.

The Derbyshire-born writer studied law at the London School of Economics and Sheffield University before becoming a social worker.

Her writing was inspired by the end of her parents' marriage and personal illness.

In an interview with Mslexia, she said: "In my 20s I was in constant pain from undiagnosed endometriosis. With no prospect of a cure, I decided I needed a career - writing - that could accommodate being ill."