Hilary Mantel has won the 2012 Man Booker Prize with her novel Bring Up The Bodies, becoming the first British author to win twice.
The bookie's favourite picked up the prestigious award - and £50,000 in prize money - at a ceremony in Central London.
Accepting the prize, she joked: "You wait 20 years for a Booker to come along, and then two come at once!".
"Now I have to go away and write the third part of this trilogy. Believe me I have no expectations I will be standing here again!"
She added in a later press conference: "3 years ago I said I'd spend it on sex and drugs and rock and roll... this year I'll probably spend it on rehab!"
Bring Up The Bodies, Mantel's 13th novel, is the sequel to 2009's Wolf Hall, for which she also won the Booker. Set in 1535, it traces the efforts of Thomas Cromwell, chief Minister to Henry VIII, to keep the peace during the the final days of Anne Boleyn.
Mantel fought off competition from Will Self, who had also been a strong favourite in the build up to the award with Umbrella, Tan Twan Eng for The Garden of Evening Mists, Deborah Levy for Swimming Home, Jeet Thayil for Narcopolis and Alison Moore who was shortlisted with her debut novel The Lighthouse.
This year's Booker saw a conscious effort to refocus on so-called 'serious' literature after the 2011 panel were accusing of dumbing down the prize by repeatedly referring to 'readability'.
"I had a very clear idea what the Man Booker tradition has been in my lifetime and we stuck to it," said Stothard when revealing the shortlist in September, adding that they were looking to find the novels that would still be read 20 years from now.
In the short term, Mantel can expect to see sales of Bring Up The Bodies continue to increase dramatically following her success - previous winners, such as Howard Jacobson in 2010, have seen sales figures rise by almost 2000% in the weeks following their victory.
11 things you probably didn't know about the Booker Prize:
When John Berger won the prize in 1972 with <em>G</em>, he protested against capitalism in an acceptance speech that accused Booker of contributing to the Caribbean's poverty through 130 years of sugar production there. Berger donated half of his £5,000 prize to the British Black Panther movement.
Although the annual shortlist usually consists of about six novels, in 1975 only two made the cut. These were <em>Heat and Dust </em>by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and <em>Gossip from the Forest </em>by Thomas Keneally. Needless to say, a lot of other authors were pretty offended.
Hurd but not heard? When Chair Douglas Hurd's speech overran by eight minutes on the 1998 live TV announcement, viewers came dangerously close to not hearing who had won - it was Ian McEwan with <em>Amsterdam</em>. IMAGE: TOBY MELVILLE/PA Images
Originally, the Booker Prize was called the Booker-McConnell Prize, after the company Booker-McConnell began sponsoring it in 1968. The "Man" was only added in 2002, when the Man Group became the title sponsor. The first ever Booker Prize was awarded to <em>P H Newby for Something to Answer Fo</em>r.
2007 saw the creation of the Man Asian Literary Prize, an annual award given to the best novel by an Asian writer written in or translated into English. Last year's winner was Kyung-sook Shin with <em>Please Look After Mom</em>.
Each year at the The Times' Literature Festival, a Booker event brings together four guest judges to select a winner from a shortlist of four books selected from a year before the introduction of the Booker Prize. Last year 1951 was chosen, and the winner was <em>The End of the Affair</em> by Graham Greene.
In 1971 the Booker Prize rules changed, with the result that 1970 became a missing year in the prize's history. In 2010 the "Lost Man Booker Prize" was created, with a winner, J G Farrell's <em>Troubles</em>, chosen from a longlist of 22 novels published in 1970. IMAGE: Matt Dunham/AP/Press Association Images
In 2008 the Best of the Booker celebrated the prize's 40th birthday with a special award given to the book voted best of the all the 41 winners since its inception. The winner by public vote was Salman Rushdie's <em>Midnight's Children</em>.
In 1980 Anthony Burgess (<em>Earthly Powers</em>) who, along with William Golding (<em>Rites of Passage</em>), was a favourite nominee, refused to attend the ceremony unless he was told in advance whether he had won. The battle between the two authors made headlines, and the judges decided to give the prize to Golding just half an hour before the ceremony.
If you thought hissy fits were for film stars think again. A few judges over the years have publicly turned their noses up at the books on the shortlist by resigning from the panel. When V S Naipaul's <em>In a Free State</em> won the prize in 1971 one such judge was put to shame as the book achieved record sales - no doubt helped by all the hoo-ha...
In 1989 controversy arose when Martin Amis' black comic novel <em>London Fields</em> was excluded because the two women judges objected to it on feminist grounds.