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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Da Vinci Code wins top book award
 2000 Nordel. Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown
Da Vinci Code writer Dan Brown was pleased the book was controversial
Bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, derided by critics and the subject of furious religious debate, has won best book at the British Book Awards.

Dan Brown, author of the book which has sold 17 million copies, said by video that he was delighted the novel had proved so controversial.

He missed out in the best author award - given to Sheila Hancock who wrote about her life with actor John Thaw.

And the literary fiction award went to Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

Brown, an American former teacher who rarely makes public appearances, said of the quasi-historical thriller: "For the record, it is a novel."

Author of the Year: Sheila Hancock
Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Biography of the Year: My Life by Bill Clinton
Book of the Year: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Children's Book of the Year: The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Crime Thriller of the Year: Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin
History Book of the Year: William Pitt the Younger by William Hague
Literary Fiction Award: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Newcomer of the Year Award:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Sports Book of the Year: Gazza: My Story by Paul Gascoigne
TV & Film Book of the Year: Himalaya by Michael Palin
Decibel Writer of the Year: Hari Kunzru
Lifetime Achievement Award: Sir John Mortimer

In the book, Brown wrote that Leonardo Da Vinci's painting The Last Supper holds the key to the Holy Grail - which is not a chalice, as traditionally believed, but Mary Magdalene.

It claims Jesus and Mary married and had a child and that their bloodline survives to this day - a secret kept by the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa and right-hand man to the new Pope Benedict XVI, recently said: "It astonishes and worries me that so many people believe these lies."

In other awards at the 16th annual event, hosted by TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, footballer Paul Gascoigne won best sports book for Gazza: My Story.

He beat the autobiographies of Olympic stars Kelly Holmes and Matthew Pinsent, plus former England rugby coach Clive Woodward.

Former US president Bill Clinton won best biography for his memoirs, and actress Hancock was named author of the year for The Two Of Us: My Life With John Thaw.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sir John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey.

The award was presented by a surprise guest - his actress daughter Emily.

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