Hilary Mantel has become the first author in literary history to win the Man Booker Prize for a sequel with her novel Bring Up the Bodies.
Her win last night made her the first woman, and first Briton, to win the prize twice, following double wins for Peter Carey and J M Coetzee.
The Fourth Estate author took the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall and its sequel was awarded the £50,000 2012 prize yesterday evening (16th October).
She was the bookies' favourite to win, and scooped Twan Eng's The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books); Deborah Levy's Swimming Home (And Other Stories/Faber); Alison Moore's The Lighthouse (Salt); Will Self's Umbrella (Bloomsbury); and Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis (Faber). Each of the shortlisted authors takes home £2,500 plus a specially commissioned handbound edition of their book.
Accepting the award, Mantel joked: "You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize, and two come along at once." At the press conference, she added: "It's not the Olympics; you're only as good as your last paragraph, and I've not written one of those today."
Chair of judges Peter Stothard said that the choice of Bring Up the Bodies, the bestselling novel of the shortlist, was "only based on literary judgement, not a bean to do with sales".
Mantel's novel has racked up sales of 118,188 copies since publication, 10,926 since the Booker shortlist was announced. Deborah Levy's Swimming Home follows, selling 12,519 copies so far, 10,428 since the shortlist announcement. According to Nielsen BookScan data, the entire shortlist has sold 158,873 copies since publication.
Wolf Hall has already gathered total sales of £5.4m.
Foyles' Jonathan Ruppin said: "Bring Up the Bodies has remained a strong seller since it was published in May, but this rare double Man Booker win confirms her output as essential reading.
"Mantel has been writing superb fiction for much longer than she has been winning major awards, so many readers will soon discover that she is their new favourite author. There’s every possibility she might pull off a unique treble when she completes the trilogy."
The 2012 judging panel comprised: Dinah Birch, academic and literary critic; Amanda Foreman, historian, writer and broadcaster; Dan Stevens, actor and Bharat Tandon, academic, writer and reviewer, plus chair Peter Stothard.
It is the 44th year of the prize, which began in 1969.
To read extracts and reviews from all the Booker-shortlisted authors, plus more Booker coverage, visit www.welovethisbook.com/booker2012.