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Friday, February 5, 1999 Published at 06:23 GMT


Bainbridge author of the year

Beryl Bainbridge: "This is a wonderful award for her to win"

Beryl Bainbridge has finally broken her awards duck by being declared author of the year by booksellers and publishers.

She gained the accolade at the British Book Awards at the Hilton hotel in London on Thursday, beating Booker Prize winner Ian McEwan.

Ms Bainbridge has been famously nominated for the Booker Prize five times and failed to win it on every occasion. Mr McEwan's book Amsterdam denied her the last time she was shortlisted.

'A great professional'

Her publisher, Robin Baird-Smith, said: "I am absolutely delighted for her.

"Despite the fact that she's been disappointed so many times over the Booker, she's a great professional and has just got on with the job.

"This is a wonderful award for her to win."

[ image: Ted Hughes: All-conquering]
Ted Hughes: All-conquering
The winners of the British Book Awards are drawn from the year's best selling books and are intended to reflect both volume of sales and quality of writing.

Votes are cast by publishers, agents and booksellers.

Ms Bainbridge's latest novel Master Georgie has sold 20,000 hardback copies, while the paperback edition of her previous book Every Man For Himself - with which she won the Whitbread novel of the year in 1997 - has topped 100,000 sales.

Book of the year went to the late poet laureate Ted Hughes' collection of poems about his marriage to Sylvia Plath, called Birthday Letters.

Top ten books of the decade

It has already won the TS Eliot poetry prize, Forward poetry prize and Whitbread book of the year, in addition to selling an almost unprecedented 150,000 copies in hardback alone.

Irish novelist Maeve Binchy received a lifetime achievement award, while Raymond Briggs's Ethel and Ernest won illustrated book of the year.

Children's book of the year went to J K Rowling for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The awards coincided with the publication of the top 10 best-selling books of the decade, as compiled by Bookwatch.

Dame Catherine Cookson topped the list, followed by gardening expert Dr David Hessayon, Discworld author Terry Pratchett, romantic writer Danielle Steel, cookery legend Delia Smith, horror writer Stephen King, legal thriller author John Grisham, spy thriller author Dick Francis, Irish novelist Maeve Binchy and adventure writer Wilbur Smith.

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