Wolf Hall wins first Walter Scott prize

<p>The Man Booker-winning novel <em>Wolf Hall </em>(Fourth Estate) has picked up another accolade, being awarded the inaugural Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction this weekend. </p><p>Author Hilary Mantel was unable to pick up the &pound;25,000 prize money at the ceremony held in Sir Walter Scott&rsquo;s Abbotsford home in the Scottish borders, on Saturday (19th June), due to illness.&nbsp; </p><p>Broadcaster James Naughtie, read a statement from Mantel, which said: &quot;I am astonished and delighted and gratified to be the first winner of the Walter Scott prize... I am very sorry that ill-health prevents my being here to collect the prize and to say thank you in person, but I am deeply grateful to the judges, the founders of the prize, and the sponsors of the Borders Book Festival.</p><p>&quot;For writers, prizes should act as the spur to achievement. It&rsquo;s lovely to be rewarded, but you&rsquo;re only as good as your next book. Conscious of this, I am working very hard to write a sequel to Wolf Hall which readers will value and enjoy just as much as the first book. This prize acts as the greatest possible encouragement.&quot;</p><p>The Walter Scott Prize is one of the top five richest UK literary prizes, and is sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, distant kinsmen of Scott. To qualify, novels must be set 60 years ago or more.&nbsp; </p><p><em>Wolf Hall</em> was chosen from a shortlist of seven, which included books with settings ranging from ancient Rome to pre-war Czechoslovakia. The other shortlisted authors included Sarah Dunant, Robert Harris, Adam Foulds, Simon Mawer, Adam Thorpe and Iain Pears. </p><p>The judges for the inaugural prize were Elizabeth Buccleuch, Elizabeth Laird, Allan Massie, David Robinson, and Gavin Wallace. They said: &quot;For once, you can believe the hype.&nbsp; This is as good as the historical novel gets &ndash; immersive, constantly engaging,&nbsp;beautifully crafted, and compulsively readable.&nbsp;Choose any superlative: it will fail this book.&nbsp; </p><p>&quot;Mantel&rsquo;s empathy for, and assimilation of, her world is so seamless and effortless as to be almost disturbing.&nbsp;&nbsp; Each book on the shortlist is deserving of the prize, but<em> Wolf Hall </em>was for us the outright winner, in a class of its own.&quot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The prize is supported by national events agency EventScotland, and was given out during the Borders Book Festival.&nbsp; </p>