A poet, playwright and novelist from Newcastle has won a prestigious £60,000 literary prize.
Ms Darling is a project fellow at Newcastle University
On Tuesday night it was announced that Julia Darling was the winner of the second Northern Rock Foundation Writer Award.
Ms Darling, who has lived in Newcastle since 1980, will receive £60,000 over a three-year period.
The Northern Rock Foundation created the award in 2001 with the aim of nurturing and developing writing talent in the north-east of England.
Ms Darling received a cheque for £20,000, the first instalment, at an presentation at the Assembly Rooms in Newcastle.
She said: "I am delighted to win this award as it buys me the invaluable space and time to relax and reflect on my writing.
"As a consequence of the wonderful endorsement of my work and the feeling of value that winning this award gives me, I feel that I now have the permission to concentrate on my writing."
She is a project fellow at the University of Newcastle, and began her writing career with a performance group The Poetry Virgins.
Ms Darling has written extensively for the stage and is about to complete a residency at Live Theatre in Newcastle.
Julia has written two novels, Crocodile Soup, published in 1998, and The Taxi Driver's Daughter, which will be published by Penguin in August.
Val McDermid, crime novelist and one of the judges, said: "Julia's writing speaks for itself - it's fresh, adventurous and restless in its search for constant development."
Poet Anne Stevenson won the first £60,000 Northern Rock Foundation award.