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Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 22:29 GMT
Heaney wins Whitbread book prize

Heaney has also won the nobel prize for literature Heaney has also won the nobel prize for literature


Northern Ireland poet Seamus Heaney has pipped children's hero Harry Potter to win his second Whitbread Book of the Year award.

The 60-year-old writer equalled the record of his friend and rival, the late Ted Hughes, after his translation of Anglo Saxon epic poem Beowulf was named the best book of 1999 at a ceremony in The Brewery, near London's Barbican.

Children's Book of the Year was awarded to JK Rowling for the third of her phenomenally successful novels about apprentice wizard Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - a book named by the judges as runner-up to the overall winner.

Heaney's triumph comes four years after he scooped the same prize for The Spirit Level, and marks the fourth successive time the Book of the Year title has been awarded to poetry.

Announcing the result, chairman of the judging panel Dr Eric Anderson said the winners were chosen only after a "lively and spirited debate" during which at one time or other, each of the five finalists looked to be the front runner.

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