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Friday, 4 February, 2000, 08:55 GMT
Harry Potter's Whitbread revenge
Harry Potter makes up for missing Whitbread prize
The creator of apprentice wizard Harry Potter has scooped the Author of the Year award at the literary equivalent of the Oscars.

Edinburgh-based JK Rowling beat off five other contenders, including horror writer Stephen King, Discworld novelist Terry Pratchett and Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter at the 11th annual British Book Awards.

"I'm trying very hard not to do a Gwyneth here. This is such an honour. I'm so terrified - If you were all nine years old I'd feel so much more comfortable"

JK Rowling accepting her award
The ceremony, for the awards nicknamed the Nibbies, was hosted by writer and broadcaster Ned Sherrin at the London Hilton in Park Lane.

The judges, who were drawn from the publishing and bookselling industries, awarded 17 separate titles on Thursday night.

For the author of the cult children's series Harry Potter, the award went some way to making up for being pipped by poet Seamus Heaney to the Whitbread Book of the Year title last month.

Ferguson's trophy

Describing it as "an honour", Ms Rowling acknowledged that she was "terrified" coming onto the stage to collect her award.
Harry Potter
Harry Potter creator is named Author of the Year
"If you were all nine years old I'd feel so much more comfortable," she said.

She added that the "great thing" about collecting the award was that she didn't have to be photographed next to Jerry Hall, who was one of the Whitbread judges.

Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson collected another trophy to add to his collection when his autobiography Managing My Life was voted Book of the Year.

Comedy veteran

Praising the writer Hugh McIlvanney, who turned Sir Alex's memoirs into a best-selling book, Sir Alex said: "If the truth be told, I wrote 250,000 words of drivel and Hugh brought some style and meaning to it."

Former Book of the Year winners include playwright Alan Bennett for Writing Home, Dava Sobel for Longitude, and Helen Fielding for Bridget Jones's Diary.

The Lifetime Achievement award went to comedy veteran Spike Milligan who said: "I thank you very much for this award and I think I deserve it."

Among the other top prizewinners was author Jacqueline Wilson who bagged the Children's Book of the Year Award for The Illustrated Mum.

Whilst TV's Naked Chef Jamie Oliver was beaten by fledging publisher Chris Stewart in the Newcomer of the Year Award.

Most the rest of the 17 titles went to top names in the book industry.

Main award winners

Book of the Year Award
Managing My Life by Sir Alex Ferguson

Author of the Year Award
JK Rowling

Children's Book of the Year Award
The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson

Newcomer of the Year Award
Chris Stewart for his Sort of Books company and its first publication Driving Over Lemons

The Lifetime Achievement Award
Spike Milligan

BBC Scotland reporter Carla Romano
"All eyes were on a woman who has rarely been out of the headlines"
See also:

02 Jul 99 | Entertainment
The magic of Harry Potter
08 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Stampede for Potter book
01 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Potter's award hat-trick
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