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Hilary Mantel wins Costa Book of the Year

Hilary Mantel has won the Costa Book of the Year for her Man Booker-winning novel Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate).

The decision was "unanimous" according to chair of judges Jenni Murray, who said: "One book simply stood head and shoulders, more than head and shoulders, on stilts, above the rest". It is the first time that one book has won both the Costa and the Man Booker.

Murray added that it was "completely irrelevant" that Mantel, the bookies' favourite, had already won the Man Booker for Bring Up the Bodies, her sequel to the Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall.

Mantel, who was awarded the £30,000 prize last night (29th January) at a ceremony in central London, said: "There was an article in the press a couple of days ago which suggested Thomas Cromwell and I were moving over the writing of England flattening young talent like a steamroller, and if I won any more awards, I'd have to start apologising . . . I'm not going to apologise, I'm going to say thank you, particularly to the judges for not letting anyone tell them how to do their job...and I will make it my business to write more books that will be worth prizes."

Waterstones spokesman Jon Howells commented on the Costa win: "I think this just shows the power of Mantel’s writing. If they [the judges] had any reservations about following the Booker, then they would have been swept aside by the power of her writing . . . We’ll see her sales increase again because of this and hopefully, what will be happening now is, once you reach everyone who would want to read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, people will start reading her backlist, which has some very different but equally impressive titles, built up over a 20-year period.”

HarperCollins has now sold over 227,000 hardbacks and 70,000 e-books of Bring Up the Bodies in the UK. There will be a worldwide paperback release for the book in English language editions on the 7th May. Fourth Estate associate publisher Minna Fry said a 100,000 print run was planned for the paperback. “We’re very excited about the future of the book, with the TV productions next year and the RSC’s plans to stage them. And of course we still have part three, The Mirror and the Light, to wait for," she said.

Also announced at the ceremony was a win by Avril Joy of the inaugural Costa short story award for her story "Millie and Bird", with Guy Lejeune and Chioma Okereke runners up.

Costa m.d. Chris Rogers drew applause from guests with a speech in which he said literacy was "absolutely vital to the future of our economy" and there was "a duty" to do everything possible to support it.