Madeline Miller has won The Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 with The Song of Achilles, her debut novel.

The American claimed the award - along with £30,000 in prize money - at a champagne reception at London's Royal Festival Hall.

She saw off competition from Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues, Anne Enright's The Forgotten, Georgina Harding's Painter of Silence, Cynthia Ozick's Foreign Bodies and Ann Patchett's State of Wonder to win what is one of the world's most pretigious awards for female authors writing novels in English.

Accepting the award, bathed in the orange hue of the sponsor's spotlights, a clearly delighted Miller said: "I am absolutely shaken. To be in the presence of the other authors was such an incredible honour for me. I'm overwhelmed.

"Thanks to Ann Patchett - whose dress I am wearing. She's very generous! I am so grateful."

The Song of Achilles retells the classic story of the young prince Patroclus living in Greece in the age of Heroes.

The judging panel this year was made up of writer and chair Joanna Trollope, writer and broadcaster Lisa Appignanesi, journalist Victoria Derbyshire, writer Natalie Haynes and broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky.

Her victory was the latest in the competition's 17 year history, and could yet prove to be the last after Orange announced a week ago that it would be withdrawing its sponsorship of the award to focus its efforts on cinema.

Pictures from the evening:

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  • Madeline Miller poses with her book The Song of Achilles during the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

  • Madeline Miller poses with her book The Song of Achilles during the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

  • Esi Edugyan poses with her book Half Blood Blues during the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

  • Anne Enright poses with her book The Forgotten Waltz during the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

  • Esi Edugyan poses with her book Half Blood Blues during the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

  • Georgina Harding poses with her book Painter of Silence during the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

Looking back on 17 years of brilliant fiction - what did the winners do next?

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  • 1996 winner: 'A Spell of Winter', Helen Dunmore

    Since winning the inaugural Orange Prize, Dunmore has published a number of children's literature titles, including the five Chronicle of Ingo series - the last of which was published this year. She was shortlisted for the prize again in 2001 with <em>The Seige</em>, as well as writing National Poetry Competition-winning poem 'The Malarky'. Her latest work of fiction, a ghost story called <em>The Greatcoat</em>, was published in February.

  • 1997 winner: 'Fugitive Pieces', Anne Michaels

    10 years after it took the Orange Prize, Michael's <em>Fugitive Pieces</em> was made into a film. She has also published another novel, <em>The Winter Vault</em>, in 2009, and two poetry collections since winning the prize.

  • 1998 winner, 'Larry's Party', Carol Shields

    Despite being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in the same year <em>Larry's Party</em> won the prize, Shields continued to publish regularly until her death in 2003. She produced three plays, her famed biography of Jane Austen and collections of short stories. Unless, her novel published in 2002, won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and made the shortlist of the Man/Booker Prize and the 2003 Orange Prize. IMAGE: CP CANADIAN PRESS/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

  • 1999 winner, 'A Crime in the Neighbourhood', Suzanne Berne

    Having won the Orange Prize with her first novel, Suzanne Berne has continued to publish three others: A Perfect Arrangement, The Ghost at the Table and, most recently, Missing Lucile: Memories of the Grandmother I Never Knew. She currently teaches at Boston College after being a Briggs-Copeland Fellow at Harvard University.

  • 2000 winner, 'When I Lived in Modern Times' Linda Grant

    Grant's been no stranger to literary prizes since <em>When I Lived in Modern Times</em> took the millenial Orange Prize. Two years later, novel <em>Still Here</em> made the Booker Prize, and the prize-winning non-fiction <em>The People On The Street: A Writer's View of Israel</em> followed as did<em> The Clothes On Their Backs,</em> which won the South Bank Show award and was Booker Prize shortlisted. Grant has also written for radio. IMAGE: Clive Gee/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2001 winner, 'The Idea of Perfection', Kate Grenville

    Australian author Grenville has continued to write novels after The Idea of Perfection. The Secret River was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and forms a trilogy with its successors, The Lieutenant and, published in 2011, Sarah Thornhill. The Idea of Perfection and The Secret River are currently in pre-production as films. IMAGE: MATTHEWT TIM MATTHEWS/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2002 winner, 'Bel Canto', Ann Patchett

    As well as being nominated a decade later in this year's prize for <em>State of Wonder</em>, Ann Patchett has published Run in 2007 and nonfiction works <em>Truth & Beauty: A Friendship</em> and <em>What Now? </em> IMAGE: Myung Jung Kim/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2003 winner, 'Property', Valerie Martin

    Martin has produced two books since her Orange Prize success in 2003. <em>Trespass</em>, in 2007, which puts American surburbia side-by-side with Iraqi refugees, and <em>The Confessions of Edward Day</em> in 2009, about 1970s Manhattan theatre.

  • 2004 winner, 'Small Island', Andrea Levy

    After winning the Orange Prize, Levy's <em>Small Island</em> also picked up gongs for the Whitbread Novel Award, the Whitbread Book of the Year award, the Orange Best of the Best, and the Commonwealth Writer's Prize. The novel was also dramatised for TV in 2009. She has since written short stories for radio and newsprint, judged the Orange Prize for Fiction, and, most recently, published <em>The Long Song</em>, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, and was the winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. IMAGE: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2005 winner, 'We Need to Talk About Kevin', Lionel Shriver

    Notably, Shriver's prize-winning novel was made into a film in 2011. However, the author has published three books in between; <em>The Post-Birthday World</em>, <em>So Much for That</em>, which critiques the US health care system, and <em>The New Republic</em>. Shriver wrote a short story, called 'Long Time, No See' in 2009, which was donated to Oxfam's 'Ox-Tales' project. IMAGE: John Stillwell/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2006 winner, 'On Beauty', Zadie Smith

    While <em>On Beauty</em> also won the Somerset Maugham Award, Smith has yet to produce another fiction novel since. Instead, she published non-fiction book<em> Fail Better</em>, about writing, in 2006, and a collection of essays <em>Changing My Mind</em> in 2009. She is currently a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University. IMAGE: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2007 winner, 'Half of a Yellow Sun', Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Adiche followed up her prize-winning novel with a collection of short stories called <em>The Thing Around Your Neck</em> in 2009. It was revealed in February that <em>Half of a Yellow Sun</em> was to be made into a film starring Thandi Newton, Dominic Cooper and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

  • 2008 winner, 'The Road Home,' Rose Tremain

    Tremain contributed to Collins and Brown-published short story collection, <em>Great Escapes</em> in the same year her novel <em>The Road Home</em> won the Orange Prize. In 2010, she published <em>Tresspass</em>, which was longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize. <em>The Road Home</em> is being made for television. IMAGE:Carl Court/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2009 winner, 'Home', Marilynne Robinson

    Since her novel <em>Home</em> took the Orange Prize, Robinson has gone on to produce two non-fiction works. <em>Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self</em>, published in 2010, and a collection of essays about religion: <em>When I Was a Child I Read Books. </em> IMAGE: John Stillwell/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2010 winner, 'The Lacuna', Barbara Kingsolver

    A year after winning the Orange Prize for The Lacuna, Kingsolver was awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia. IMAGE: Alastair Grant/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2011 winner, 'The Tiger's Wife', Tea Obrecht

    The Tiger's Wife was Obrecht's debut novel, so she's had a pretty whirlwind 12 months since last year's prize. Since then, however, it has been a finalist in the 2011 National Book Award, and become a <em>New York Times</em> Bestseller.