Hilary Mantel's 'Bring Up The Bodies' Wins Costa Book Award

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Hilary Mantel has won this year's Costa Book Award for her novel Bring Up The Bodies which the judges described as "head and shoulders" above the other books.

The writer won the Man Booker Prize last year for the same novel which is the second in a planned trilogy about King Henry VIII's adviser Thomas Cromwell. It is the first time and author has picked up both prestigious in the same award year.

hilary mantel

Hilary Mantel said she wouldn't apologise for winning another award

Broadcaster Dame Jenni Murray, who chaired the judging panel, said: "This is a very difficult prize to judge because there are five categories and they are so different, poetry, children's, biography, first novel and novel so it's not an easy prize to judge but I have to say today one book simply stood head and shoulders, more than head and shoulders - on stilts - above the rest".

The novel was up against a comic-style graphic memoir about James Joyce's daughter, Dotter of her Father's Eyes, by husband and wife team Mary and Bryan Talbot, and children's book Maggot Moon by dyslexic writer Sally Gardner.

The shortlist was completed by poet Kathleen Jamie's collection The Overhaul and Francesca Segal's first novel, The Innocents.

All five shortlisted writers receive £5,000 each with the overall winner picking up a main prize of £30,000.

Dame Jenni, who said it was "a real joy" to see five women's names on the shortlist, said Mantel was a unanimous winner.

Speaking at the awards in central London, she said: "I said, 'Ok let's have a vote, Bring Up The Bodies' and every hand went up".

She said the judge's discussion, which lasted around an hour, had considered that Mantel had already won the Booker but ultimately disregarded it.

She said: "We couldn't allow the number of times it has already been lauded to affect our decision, it was quite simply the best book".

The nine-strong judging panel also included actress Jenny Agutter, author Wendy Holden and comedian Mark Watson.

Dame Jenni said: "I think one person said, this is while we were discussing the poetry as well, one person said, 'Hilary Mantel writes poetry' and she does.

"Her prose is so poetic, it's so beautiful, it's so set in it's time, so you know exactly where you are and who you are with but it's also incredibly modern, her analysis of the politics is so modern and everybody found there were things that just stuck in their minds that they would think about for a very long time".

A spokesman for booksellers Waterstones said the win underlined Mantel's "staggering success".

He said: "Don't imagine that the market is sated for Mantel's books - this win will inspire many, many more readers to discover the wonderful writing in her rich backlist."

Accepting her prize, Mantel said she was "not going to apologise" for winning another one.

She said: "I'm not sorry, I'm happy and I shall make it my business to try to write more books that will be worth more prizes".