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James, Balding, Rankin win at National Book Awards

E L James has won the Specsavers Popular Fiction Book of the Year with her erotica smash-hit Fifty Shades of Grey (Arrow), with Ian Rankin and Hilary Mantel also taking home gongs.

James beat authors including Kate Mosse and Bernard Cornwell to the award, which was announced yesterday evening (4th December) by presenter Lorraine Kelly at an event at London's Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Clare Balding won the Biography of the Year for her My Animals and Other Family (Viking) scooping Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell to the prize. Balding declared the win "beautifully surprising and wonderful", dubbing editor Joel Rickett "an absolute superstar".

The Magic FM Non-Fiction Book of the Year went to Miranda Hart for Is It Just Me? (Hodder). The radio station has partnered with the awards, and will be interviewing the winning authors. Collecting the award, Hart hinted there may be further books to come, saying: "Thank you to the book world who are all really lovely and welcoming... I got a bit of a taste for it, I really enjoyed writing it." 

Double Man Booker-winner Hilary Mantel was awarded the Waterstone's UK Author of the Year for her Bring Up the Bodies (Fourth Estate), beating authors including J K Rowling and Zadie Smith. Unable to attend the ceremony through ill-health, Mantel sent thanks to booksellers for their "whole-hearted" support of her novel. Lee Child won the Crime Book of the Year available at iBookstore for A Wanted Man (Bantam). He thanked sponsor Specsavers, observing that without them, "I can't write at all because I can't see the computer."

Debut author Rachel Joyce was laurelled for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Doubleday). Joyce made a point of thanking the booksellers who had supported her book, saying: "I just think without the booksellers people like me wouldn't get a look in."

The Hairy Bikers' The Hairy Dieters (W&N) won W H Smith Food and Drink Book of the Year, while comedian and writer David Walliams won the National Book Tokens Children's Book of the Year for his Ratburger (HC Children's).

The International Author of the Year in partnership with Google Play was named as Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child (Headline Review).

And the Audible Audio Book of the Year went to Caroline Quentin's narration of Sue Townsend's The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year (Whole Story Audiobooks). Quentin declared herself "completely thrilled" and thanked Whole Story for bringing out the audiobook unabridged.

Meanwhile crime writer Ian Rankin took home a special Outstanding Achievement Award for his contribution to literature. Accepting the award, Rankin protested: "I'm only 52, give me a break, I do feel my best work may be ahead of me."

Readers are now invited to vote online for the Specsavers Book of the Year at http://www.nationalbookawards.co.uk/ and the final result will be announced on 26th December. 

Highlights from the show will also be broadcast on host Lorraine Kelly's ITV1 show today.

Dame Mary Perkins, Specsavers founder, said: "The National Book Awards can only be described as the Oscars of the literary world and the evening certainly was full of incredible talent. I’d like to congratulate all the winning authors and wish them the best of luck in scooping the Specsavers National Book of the Year title."

Amanda Ross, from Cactus TV which produces the awards, added: "These awards rightly celebrate the books people are actually buying, reading and loving. The shortlist serves as the perfect Christmas gift guide."