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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 11:47 GMT


Hughes tipped for Whitbread treble

Ted Hughes could win the title for the third time with Alcestis

The late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes is again in the running for the prestigious Whitbread Book of Year Award - for the third year in a row and a year after his death.

Hughes, who died in October 1998 aged 68, took the Whitbread posthumously earlier this year for Birthday Letters, following his win in 1997 with Tales from Ovid.

[ image: Seamus Heaney won the Whitbread Poetry Award in 1996]
Seamus Heaney won the Whitbread Poetry Award in 1996
This year, he could take the title for his translation of Alcestis, originally begun in 1993 and completed just months before his death.

Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney has been nominated, along with his friend Hughes, in the poetry section for his translation of the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf. Heaney also won the Whitbread Poetry Award in 1996.

J K Rowling has been put forward in the children's category for the latest in her acclaimed Harry Potter series, the Prisoner of Azkaban.

While BBC broadcaster Francine Stock is on the list in the first novel category for A Foreign Country.

Overall, five shortlists have been unveiled under the categories poetry, biography, novel, first novel and children's.

[ image: Francine Stock in one of her successful BBC presenting roles]
Francine Stock in one of her successful BBC presenting roles
The winners of each will go forward to compete for the main title of Book of the Year - and £21,000 prize-money - in January.

While poet Hughes could be setting new records for his third consecutive win, it is also a milestone year for writers of children's literature.

This is the first time a children's writer has been eligible for the main title. Rowling is up against Carol Ann Duffy, a former Poet Laureate favourite, for her book Meeting Midnight.

Rowling and Duffy could walk away with £31,000 if they take the Book Of The Year title as well as the £10,000 for the children's title. Taking the title in each of the other sections is worth £2,000 to the winner.

In the first novel category, Stock - who fronted TV coverage of last year's Whitbread Prize dinner - faces fellow journalist, Andrew O'Hagan of The Daily Telegraph, for his Booker-shortlisted Our Fathers.

[ image: J K Rowling has won a huge child and adult following for Harry Potter]
J K Rowling has won a huge child and adult following for Harry Potter
They are joined by British-based author Suzanne Cleminshaw. Cleminshaw is the niece of the astronaut Buzz Aldrin and has based one of characters on her famous uncle.

Another Booker nominee, Michael Frayn, features in the novel category for Headlong. He is joined by Rose Tremain for Music and Silence and Jim Crace for Being Dead.

The final entry in the section is Chocolat by former French teacher Joanne Harris. Whether or not Harris wins the Whitbread title, her book has already been optioned for a movie directed by What's Eating Gilbert Grape director Lasse Halstrom.

The winners of the Whitbread Novel, First Novel, Biography and Poetry Awards will be announced on 6 January.

The Whitbread Children's and Book of the Year titles will be announced at a dinner on 25 January.

Whitbread awards shortlists

Novel Award

  • Being Dead by Jim Crace
  • Headlong by Michael Frayn
  • Chocolat by Joanne Harris
  • Music and Silence by Rose Tremain

    First Novel Award

  • The Great Ideas by Suzanne Cleminshaw
  • White City Blue by Tim Lott
  • Our Fathers by Andrew O'Hagan
  • A Foreign Country by Francine Stock

    Poetry Award

  • Beowulf by Seamus Heaney
  • Approximately Nowhere by Michael Hofmann
  • Alcestis by Ted Hughes
  • The Eyes by Don Paterson

    Biography Award

  • Berlioz, Volume II: Servitude and Greatness by David Cairns
  • Bruce Chatwin by Nicholas Shakespeare
  • The Unknown Matisse (1869-1908) Volume 1 by Hilary Spurling

    Children's Book of the Year

  • Meeting Midnight by Carol Ann Duffy
  • Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling
  • The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson

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