Success has come late to Sheffield University graduate Hilary Mantel – but she has more than made up for it.
She has twice won the Man Booker Prize and now has the Costa Prize to add to her haul.
She has won the Costa Book Award for her Man Booker Prize-winning Bring up the Bodies.
The judges described the book, the second part of a planned trilogy about King Henry VIII’s adviser Thomas Cromwell, as ‘head and shoulders’ above the other contenders.
The first book of the trilogy, Wolf Hall, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009.
Mrs Mantel, who was born in Derbyshire, said: “I’m happy and shall make it my business to try to write more books worth prizes.
“I was writing for many years and was not among the prizes or was the perpetual runner-up.
“Things have changed in a big way, I feel my luck has changed but of course that’s not true.
“What’s changed is what I’m working on, possibly a project that’s played to my strengths.”
The 60-year-old studied law Sheffield University where she graduated in 1973 before working as a social worker.
She now lives in Devon where she is working on the final part of the trilogy, said to be called The Mirror and the Light.
Broadcaster Dame Jenni Murray, who chaired the Costa judging panel, said they had made a unanimous decision.
She said: “One book simply stood head and shoulders, more than head and shoulders – on stilts – above the rest.”
Professor Keith Burnett, Sheffield University vice-chancellor, said: “We are proud and delighted Mrs Mantel has been awarded this wonderful honour.
“Her achievement as a novelist who draws on history and re-imagines it with such power is truly outstanding.”