Costa Book Awards
The Costa Book Awards are a series of literary awards given to books by authors based in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. They were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2005, after which Costa Coffee
Costa Coffee
Costa Coffee is a British coffeehouse company founded in 1971 by Italian brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa, as a wholesale operation supplying roasted coffee to caterers and specialist Italian coffee shops. Since 1995 it has been a subsidiary of Whitbread, since when the company has grown to over...

, a subsidiary of Whitbread
Whitbread PLC is a global hotel, coffee shop and restaurant company headquartered in Dunstable, United Kingdom. Its largest division is Premier Inn, which is the largest hotel brand in the UK with around 580 hotels and over 40,000 rooms. Its Costa Coffee chain has around 1,600 stores across 25...

, took over sponsorship.

The awards, launched in 1971, are given both for high literary merit but also for works that are enjoyable reading and whose aim is to convey the enjoyment of reading to the widest possible audience. As such, they are a more populist literary prize than the Booker Prize.

In 1989, controversy erupted when the judges first awarded the Best Novel prize to Alexander Stuart
Alexander Stuart (writer)
Alexander Stuart is a British-born, Los Angeles-based novelist and screenwriter.Stuart's books include The War Zone, Tribes, Life On Mars , Five And A Half Times Three , and the...

's The War Zone
The War Zone
The War Zone is a 1999 drama film written by Alexander Stuart, based on his novel, and directed by Tim Roth. The film takes a blunt look at incest and sexual violence in an English family.Upon its release, the movie won nine awards and 10 nominations....

, then withdrew the prize prior to the ceremony amid acrimony among the judges, ultimately awarding it to Lindsay Clarke
Lindsay Clarke
Lindsay Clarke is a British novelist. He was educated at Heath Grammar School in Halifax and at King's College Cambridge. He worked in education for many years, in Africa, America and the UK, before becoming a full-time writer. He currently lives in Somerset with his wife, Phoebe Clare, who is a...

's The Chymical Wedding
The Chymical Wedding
The Chymical Wedding is a 1989 novel by Lindsay Clarke about the intertwined lives of six people in two different eras.Inspired by the life of Mary Anne Atwood, the book includes themes of alchemy, the occult, fate, passion, and obsession. It won the Whitbread Prize for fiction in 1989...


The process

Currently each year winners are chosen by five separate judging panels picking from different shortlists in five different categories:
  • Best novel
  • Best first novel
  • Children's book
  • Poetry
  • Biography

Each category winner receives £5,000. One of the category winners is then selected as the Costa Book of the Year and given a further £25,000. This overall award is chosen by a judging panel that comprises five judges from the previous category round and four new ones.

The category winners do not have to be British or Irish but must have been resident in the UK or Ireland for at least six months in each of the previous three years.


Shortlisted was announced November 2011. Winners will be announced January 2012.


  • First Novel Award — Kishwar Desai, Witness the Night
  • Novel Award — Maggie O'Farrell
    Maggie O'Farrell
    Maggie O'Farrell is a British author of contemporary fiction, who features in Waterstones' 25 Authors for the Future It is possible to identify several common themes in her novels – the relationship between sisters is one, another is loss and the psychological impact of those losses on the lives...

    , The Hand That First Held Mine
  • Children's Book Award — Jason Wallace
    Jason Wallace
    Jason Wallace is a web designer , living in South West London . He is the author of Out of Shadows, the 2010 Costa Children's Book of the Year .- Personal Life :...

    , Out of Shadows
  • Poetry Award — Jo Shapcott
    Jo Shapcott
    Jo Shapcott FRSL, is an English poet, editor and lecturer who has won the National Poetry Competition, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Costa Book of the Year Award, a Forward Poetry Prize and the Cholmondeley Award.-Career:...

    , Of Mutability
  • Biography Award — Edmund de Waal
    Edmund de Waal
    Edmund Arthur Lowndes de Waal OBE is a British ceramic artist, and author of The Hare with Amber Eyes . He has worked as a curator, lecturer, art critic and art historian and is a Professor of Ceramics at the University of Westminster. He has received several awards and honours for his...

    , The Hare with Amber Eyes
    The Hare with Amber Eyes
    The Hare with Amber Eyes is a family memoir by British ceramicist Edmund de Waal. Waal tells the story of his family the Ephrussi, who were once a very wealthy European Jewish banking dynasty centered in Odessa, Vienna and Paris, peers of the Rothschild family. The Ephrussi lost almost everything...


  • First Novel Award — Raphael Selbourne, Beauty
  • Novel Award — Colm Tóibin
    Colm Tóibín
    Colm Tóibín is a multi-award-winning Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic, and, most recently, poet.Tóibín is Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University in New Jersey and succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the...

    , Brooklyn
    Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

  • Children's Book Award — Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness is an American author, journalist and lecturer who lives in London. He holds both American and British citizenship...

    ,The Ask and the Answer
    The Ask and the Answer
    The Ask And The Answer is the second installment in the Chaos Walking Trilogy written by Patrick Ness and published on May 4, 2009. The events follow immediately on from The Knife of Never Letting Go.-Plot summary:...

  • Poetry Award — Christopher Reid
    Christopher Reid
    Christopher Reid is a Hong Kong-born British poet, essayist, cartoonist, and writer. He has been nominated twice for the Whitbread Awards in 1996 and in 1997. A contemporary of Martin Amis, he was educated at Exeter College, Oxford. He is one of the exponents of Martian poetry which employs...

    , A Scattering
  • Biography Award — Graham Farmelo, The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius
    The Strangest Man
    The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius is a 2009 biography of quantum physicist Paul Dirac written by British physicist and author, Graham Farmelo, and published by Faber and Faber...


  • First Novel Award — Sadie Jones
    Sadie Jones
    Sadie Jones is an English writer and novelist.Jones was raised in London, the daughter of Evan Jones, a Jamaican-born poet and scriptwriter, who worked with director Joseph Losey on several projects and Joanna Jones, an actor...

    , The Outcast
  • Novel Award — Sebastian Barry
    Sebastian Barry
    Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright, novelist, and poet. He has been shortlisted twice for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and has won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year....

    , The Secret Scripture
    The Secret Scripture
    The Secret Scripture is a 2008 novel written by Irish playwright Sebastian Barry.-Plot summary:The main character is a one-hundred year old woman, Roseanne McNulty, who now resides in the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital. Having been a patient for some fifty years or more, Roseanne decides to...

  • Children's Book Award — Michelle Magorian
    Michelle Magorian
    Michelle Magorian is an English author of children's books, including Goodnight Mister Tom, Back Home and A Little Love Song.- Biography :...

    , Just Henry
  • Poetry Award — Adam Foulds
    Adam Foulds
    Adam Foulds is a British novelist and poet.-Biography:Foulds was educated at Bancroft's School, read English at St Catherine's College, Oxford under Craig Raine, and graduated with an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in 2001. Foulds published The Truth About These Strange...

    , The Broken Word
  • Biography Award — Diana Athill
    Diana Athill
    Diana Athill OBE is a British literary editor, novelist and memoirist who worked with some of the most important writers of the 20th century.-Life and writings:...

    , Somewhere Towards the End


  • First Novel Award – Catherine O'Flynn
    Catherine O'Flynn
    Catherine O'Flynn, born in 1970, is a British writer. Her novel, What Was Lost, won the prestigious First Novel prize at the Costa Book Awards in 2008.-Biography:...

    , What Was Lost
    What Was Lost
    What Was Lost is the 2007 début novel by Catherine O'Flynn. The novel is about a girl who goes missing in a shopping centre in 1984, and the people who try to discover what happened to her twenty years later...

  • Novel Award — A.L. Kennedy, Day
    Day (2007 novel)
    Day is a novel by A. L. Kennedy. It won the novel category and the overall Costa Book of the Year Award in the 2007 Costa Book Awards. The novel is about a man who was a tailgunner in a Lancaster bomber aircraft during World War II. Later, he is an extra in a film about prisoners of war....

  • Children's Book Award — Ann Kelley
    Ann Kelley
    Ann Kelley is the author of The Burying Beetle and The Bower Bird ]...

    , The Bower Bird
  • Poetry Award — Jean Sprackland
    Jean Sprackland
    Jean Sprackland is an English poet, the author of three collections of poetry published since 1997.-Biography:Originally from Burton upon Trent, Jean Sprackland studied English and Philosophy at the University of Kent at Canterbury, then taught for a few years before beginning to write poetry at...

    , Tilt
  • Biography Award — Simon Sebag Montefiore
    Simon Sebag Montefiore
    Simon Jonathan Sebag Montefiore is a British historian and writer.-Family history:Simon's father, a doctor, is descended from a famous line of wealthy Sephardic Jews who became diplomats and bankers all over Europe...

    , Young Stalin


  • First Novel Award – Stef Penney
    Stef Penney
    Stef Penney is a film-maker and writer.She grew up in the Scottish capital and turned to film-making after a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University. She made three short films before studying Film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art, and on graduation was selected for the...

    , The Tenderness of Wolves
  • Novel Award — William Boyd
    William Boyd (writer)
    William Boyd, CBE is a Scottish novelist and screenwriter.-Biography:Of Scottish descent, Boyd spent his early life in Ghana and Nigeria, in Africa...

    , Restless
    Restless (novel)
    Restless, an espionage novel by William Boyd, was published in 2006 and won the Costa Prize for fiction.The novel depicts the tale of a young woman who discovers that her mother was recruited as a spy during World War II. Its intrigue may well be a function of the style of prose. The book...

  • Children's Book Award — Linda Newbery
    Linda Newbery
    Linda Newbery is a British author, who began writing as a young adult author but has now broadened her range to encompass all ages. Now a full-time writer, she published her first novel Run with the Hare in 1988, while still working as an English teacher in a comprehensive school.Linda is a regular...

    , Set in Stone
    Set in Stone (novel)
    Set in Stone is a children's fantasy novel written by Linda Newbery. It won the Costa Children's Book of the Year Prize for 2006....

  • Poetry Award — John Haynes, Letter to Patience
  • Biography Award — Brian Thompson
    Brian Thompson
    Brian Thompson is an American actor.Brian Thompson may also refer to:*Brian Thompson , reporter and anchorman for WNBC-TV*Brian Thomson , senior correspondent for SBS World News *Brian B. Thompson, British writer...

    , Keeping Mum


  • First Novel Award - Tash Aw
    Tash Aw
    Tash Aw, whose full name is Aw Ta-Shi is a Malaysian writer currently living in London.- Biography :...

    , The Harmony Silk Factory
  • Novel Award - Ali Smith
    Ali Smith
    Ali Smith is a British writer.She was born to working-class parents, raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge. She studied at the University of Aberdeen and then at Newnham College, Cambridge, for a PhD that was never finished. She worked as a lecturer at University of...

    , The Accidental
  • Children's Book Award - Kate Thompson
    Kate Thompson (author)
    Kate Thompson is an award-winning writer for children and adults. Born in Halifax, Yorkshire, she has lived in Ireland, where many of her books are set, since 1981. She is the youngest child of the social historians and peace activists E. P. Thompson and Dorothy Towers...

    , The New Policeman
    The New Policeman
    The New Policeman is a 2005 children's fantasy novel by author Kate Thompson. It was the winner of both the 2005 Whitbread Children's Book Award and the 2005 Guardian Award for the Children's Fiction Prize category.-Reception:...

  • Poetry Award - Christopher Logue
    Christopher Logue
    Christopher Logue, CBE is an English poet associated with the British Poetry Revival. He has also written for the theatre and cinema as well as acting in a number of films. His two screenplays are Savage Messiah and The End of Arthur's Marriage...

    , Cold Calls
  • Biography Award - Hilary Spurling
    Hilary Spurling
    Hilary Spurling, CBE, FRSL is a British writer, known as a journalist and biographer. She won the Whitbread Prize for the second volume of her biography of Henri Matisse in January 2006...

    , Matisse the Master


  • First Novel Award - Susan Fletcher, Eve Green
  • Novel Award - Andrea Levy
    Andrea Levy
    Andrea Levy is a British author, born in London to Jamaican parents who sailed to England on the Empire Windrush in 1948.-Identity and writings:...

    , Small Island
    Small Island
    Small Island is a 2004 prize-winning novel by British author Andrea Levy. It was adapted for television in two episodes by the BBC in 2009....

  • Children's Book Award - Geraldine McCaughrean
    Geraldine McCaughrean
    Geraldine McCaughrean is a British children's novelist.The youngest of three children, McCaughrean studied teaching but did not like it, and found her true vocation in writing. She claims that what makes her love writing is the desire to escape from an unsatisfactory world...

    , Not the End of the World
  • Poetry Award - Michael Symmons Roberts
    Michael Symmons Roberts
    Michael Symmons Roberts is a British poet. He has published five collections of poetry, all with Cape , and has won the Whitbread Poetry Award, as well as major prizes from the Arts Council and Society of Authors. He has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize twice, the Griffin International...

    , Corpus
  • Biography Award - John Guy
    John Guy (historian)
    John Guy is a British historian and biographer.Born in Australia, he moved to Britain with his parents in 1952. He was educated at King Edward VII School in Lytham, and Clare College, Cambridge, where he read history, taking a First. At Cambridge, Guy studied under the Tudor specialist Geoffrey...

    , My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots


  • First Novel Award - DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little
    Vernon God Little
    Vernon God Little is a novel by DBC Pierre. It was his debut novel and won the Booker Prize in 2003.-Plot introduction:The title character is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives in a small town in the U.S. state of Texas...

  • Novel Award - Mark Haddon
    Mark Haddon
    Mark Haddon is an English novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.- Life and work :...

    , The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a 2003 novel by British writer Mark Haddon. It won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book...

  • Children's Book Award - David Almond
    David Almond
    David Almond is a British children's writer who has written several novels, each one to critical acclaim.-Early life:Almond was born and raised in Felling and Newcastle in post-industrial North East England and educated at the University of East Anglia, he was born in 1951...

    , The Fire-Eaters
    The Fire-Eaters
    The Fire-Eaters is a children's novel by David Almond, published in 2003. It won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize Gold Award and the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award, as well as being shortlisted for both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal....

  • Poetry Award - Don Paterson
    Don Paterson
    Don Paterson, OBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet, writer and musician.-Background:Paterson was born in Dundee. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1990 and his poem A Private Bottling won the Arvon Foundation International Poetry Competition in 1993. He was included on the list of 20 poets chosen for the...

    , Landing Light
  • Biography Award - DJ Taylor, Orwell: The Life


  • First Novel Award - Norman Lebrecht
    Norman Lebrecht
    Norman Lebrecht is a British commentator on music and cultural affairs and a novelist. He was a columnist for The Daily Telegraph from 1994 until 2002 and assistant editor of the Evening Standard from 2002 until 2009...

    , The Song of Names
  • Novel Award - Michael Frayn
    Michael Frayn
    Michael J. Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy...

    , Spies
    Spies (Novel)
    Spies is a psychological novel by English author and dramatist Michael Frayn. It is currently studied by A-Level, and some GCSE, literature students in various schools.- Synopsis :...

  • Children's Book Award - Hilary McKay
    Hilary McKay
    Hilary McKay is a British children's author.-Biography:She was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, and is the eldest of four daughters. She studied English, Zoology and Botany at St Andrews University before becoming a public protection scientist. Her first novel,The Exiles, was written in 1991...

    , Saffy's Angel
    Saffy's Angel
    Saffy's Angel is the first novel in the Casson Family series written by Hilary McKay. The book is written about a family and their respective lives.-Plot summary:...

  • Poetry Award - Paul Farley
    Paul Farley
    Paul Farley is an award-winning English poet. He studied painting at the Chelsea School of Art, and has lived in London, Brighton and Cumbria...

    , The Ice Age
  • Biography Award - Claire Tomalin
    Claire Tomalin
    Claire Tomalin is an English biographer and journalist. She was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge.She was literary editor of the New Statesman and of the Sunday Times, and has written several noted biographies...

    , Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self


  • First Novel Award - Sid Smith
    Sid Smith (writer)
    Sid Smith is an award-winning English novelist and journalist.-Life and career:Smith was born in Preston, Lancashire, the son of a lorry driver. For seven years he worked in labouring jobs, including dustman, gravedigger and construction worker...

    , Something Like A House
  • Novel Award - Patrick Neate
    Patrick Neate
    Patrick Neate is an award-winning British novelist, journalist, poet, screenwriter and podcaster.-Early life:Born and raised as a Roman Catholic in South London, he was educated at St. Paul's School and Cambridge University. He spent a gap year in Zimbabwe and has since returned to Africa on many...

    , Twelve Bar Blues
  • Children's Book Award - Philip Pullman
    Philip Pullman
    Philip Pullman CBE, FRSL is an English writer from Norwich. He is the best-selling author of several books, most notably his trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials, and his fictionalised biography of Jesus, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ...

    , The Amber Spyglass
    The Amber Spyglass
    The Amber Spyglass is the third and final novel in the His Dark Materials series, written by English author Philip Pullman, and published in 2000....

  • Poetry Award - Selima Hill
    Selima Hill
    -Life:She read at Cambridge University. She was a Fellow at University of Exeter.She lives in Lyme Regis.-Awards:* 1986 Cholmondeley Award* Arvon Poetry Prize* Whitbread Poetry Award* University of East Anglia Writing Fellowship...

    , Bunny
  • Biography Award - Diana Souhami, Selkirk's Island


  • First Novel Award - Zadie Smith
    Zadie Smith
    Zadie Smith is a British novelist. To date she has written three novels. In 2003, she was included on Granta's list of 20 best young authors...

    , White Teeth
  • Novel Award - Matthew Kneale
    Matthew Kneale
    Matthew Kneale is a British writer, best known for his 2000 novel English Passengers, which won the prestigious Whitbread Book Award and was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He went to school at Latymer Upper School and then studied Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford, and afterwards...

    , English Passengers
    English Passengers
    English Passengers is a 2000 historical novel written by Matthew Kneale, which won that year's Whitbread Book Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Award...

  • Children's Book Award - Jamila Gavin
    Jamila Gavin
    Jamila Gavin is a British writer born in Mussoorie, India in the foothills of the Himalayas.Her father was Indian and her mother English...

    , Coram Boy
  • Poetry Award - John Burnside
    John Burnside
    John Burnside is a Scottish writer, born in Dunfermline.-Background:Burnside studied English and European Languages at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. A former computer software engineer, he has been a freelance writer since 1996...

    , The Asylum Dance
  • Biography Award - Lorna Sage
    Lorna Sage
    Lorna Sage was a Welsh-born academic, as well as an award-winning literary critic and author, known widely for her contribution to the consideration of women's writing.-Biography:...

    , Bad Blood - A Memoir

See also

  • List of British literary awards
  • List of literary awards
  • English literature
    English literature
    English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

  • British literature
    British literature
    British Literature refers to literature associated with the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. By far the largest part of British literature is written in the English language, but there are bodies of written works in Latin, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Cornish, Manx, Jèrriais,...

  • Literature
    Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

  • List of years in literature

External links

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