Costa Book Awards

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The Costa Book Awards are a set of annual literary awards recognising English-language books by writers based in Britain and Ireland. They were inaugurated for 1971 publications and known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006 when Costa Coffee, a subsidiary of Whitbread, took over sponsorship.[1][2] The companion Costa Short Story Award was established in 2012.[3]

The awards 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's The War Zone, then withdrew the prize prior to the ceremony amid acrimony among the judges, ultimately awarding it to Lindsay Clarke's The Chymical Wedding.


Authors need not be British or Irish but they must have been resident in the UK or Ireland for at least six months in each of the previous three years.[citation needed]

There are five book award categories, without change since the Poetry Award was introduced in 1985, although the children's category has been termed "children's novel" or "children's book of the year".[1][2]

The winning books are selected from shortlists by five distinct panels of judges.[citation needed] Each of the five winning writers receives £5,000.

One of the winning books is then named Costa Book of the Year with a further £25,000 prize. That overall award is determined by a panel comprising five judges from the first round and four new ones.[citation needed]

  • Short story

The short story award was established in 2012 with a prize of £3,500.[3] The winning story is determined by public vote from a shortlist of six that are selected by a panel of judges. The process is "blind" at both stages for the unpublished entries are anonymous until the conclusion.[3][4]

In the inaugural year, the six short story finalists had been published anonymously online by 28 November 2012 and the public vote was underway. The winner was to be announced 29 January 2013.[4]


Bold font and blue ribbon (Blue ribbon) distinguish the overall Costa Book of the Year.[1]

List of award winners[edit]

Year Award
Novel First novel Children's book Poetry Biography Short story
1971 Gerda Charles
The Destiny Waltz
Geoffrey Hill
Mercian Hymns
Michael Meyer
Henrik Ibsen
1972 Susan Hill
The Bird of Night
Rumer Godden
The Diddakoi
James Pope-Hennessy
Anthony Trollope
1973 Shiva Naipaul
The Chip-Chip Gatherers
Alan Aldridge and William Plomer
The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast
John Wilson
CB: A Life of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
1974 Iris Murdoch
The Sacred and Profane Love Machine
Claire Tomalin
The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft
Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake
How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen
Jill Paton Welsh
The Emperor's Winding Sheet
Andrew Boyle
Poor Dear Brendan
1975 William McIlvanney
Ruth Spalding
The Improbable Puritan: A Life of Bulstrode Whitelocke
Helen Corke
In Our Infancy
1976 William Trevor
The Children of Dynmouth
Penelope Lively
A Stitch in Time
Winifred Gerin
Elizabeth Gaskell
1977 Beryl Bainbridge
Injury Time
Shelagh Macdonald
No End to Yesterday
Nigel Nicolson
Mary Curzon
1978 Paul Theroux
Picture Palace
Philippa Pearce
The Battle of Bubble & Squeak
John Grigg
Lloyd George: The People's Champion
1979 Jennifer Johnston
The Old Jest
Peter Dickinson
Penelope Mortimer
About Time
1980 David Lodge
How Far Can You Go
Blue ribbon
Leon Garfield
John Diamond
David Newsome
On the Edge of Paradise: A. C. Benson, Diarist
1981 Maurice Leitch
Silver's City
William Boyd
A Good Man in Africa
Jane Gardam
The Hollow Land
Nigel Hamilton
Monty: The Making of a General
1982 John Wain
Young Shoulders
Bruce Chatwin
On the Black Hill
W. J. Corbett
The Song of Pentecost
Edward Crankshaw
1983 William Trevor
Fools of Fortune
John Fuller
Flying to Nowhere
Roald Dahl
The Witches
Victoria Glendinning
Kenneth Rose
King George V
1984 Christopher Hope
Kruger's Alp
James Buchan
A Parish of Rich Women
Barbara Willard
The Queen of the Pharisees' Children
Peter Ackroyd
T. S. Eliot
Diane Rowe
Tomorrow is our Permanent Address
1985 Peter Ackroyd
Jeanette Winterson
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Janni Howker
The Nature of the Beast
Douglas Dunn
Blue ribbon
Ben Pimlott
Hugh Dalton
1986 Kazuo Ishiguro
An Artist of the Floating World
Blue ribbon
Jim Crace
Andrew Taylor
The Coal House
Peter Reading
Richard Mabey
Gilbert White
1987 Ian McEwan
The Child in Time
Francis Wyndham
The Other Garden
Geraldine McCaughrean
A Little Lower than the Angels
Seamus Heaney
The Haw Lantern
Christopher Nolan
Under the Eye of the Clock
Blue ribbon
1988 Salman Rushdie
The Satanic Verses
Paul Sayer
The Comforts of Madness
Blue ribbon
Judy Allen
Awaiting Developments
Peter Porter
The Automatic Oracle
A. N. Wilson
1989 Lindsay Clarke
The Chymical Wedding
James Hamilton-Paterson
Hugh Scott
Why Weeps the Brogan
Michael Donaghy
Richard Holmes
Coleridge: Early Visions
Blue ribbon
1990 Nicholas Mosley
Hopeful Monsters
Blue ribbon
Hanif Kureishi
The Buddha of Suburbia
Peter Dickinson
Paul Durcan
Daddy, Daddy
Ann Thwaite
AA Milne – His Life
1991 Jane Gardam
The Queen of the Tambourine
Gordon Burn
Alma Cogan
Diana Hendry
Harvey Angell
Michael Longley
Gorse Fires
John Richardson
A Life of Picasso
Blue ribbon
1992 Alasdair Gray
Poor Things
Jeff Torrington
Swing Hammer Swing!
Blue ribbon
Gillian Cross
The Great Elephant Chase
Tony Harrison
The Gaze of the Gorgon
Victoria Glendinning
1993 Joan Brady
Theory of War
Blue ribbon
Rachel Cusk
Saving Agnes
Anne Fine
Flour Babies
Carol Ann Duffy
Mean Time
Andrew Motion
Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life
1994 William Trevor
Felicia's Journey
Blue ribbon
Fred D'Aguiar
The Longest Memory
Geraldine McCaughrean
Gold Dust
James Fenton
Out of Danger
Brenda Maddox
D H Lawrence: The Married Man
1995 Salman Rushdie
The Moor's Last Sigh
Kate Atkinson
Behind the Scenes at the Museum
Blue ribbon
Michael Morpurgo
The Wreck of the Zanzibar
Bernard O'Donoghue
Roy Jenkins
1996 Beryl Bainbridge
Every Man for Himself
John Lanchester
The Debt to Pleasure
Anne Fine
The Tulip Touch
Seamus Heaney
The Spirit Level
Blue ribbon
Diarmaid MacCulloch
Thomas Cranmer: A Life
1997 Jim Crace
Pauline Melville
The Ventriloquist's Tale
Andrew Norriss
Ted Hughes
Tales from Ovid
Blue ribbon
Graham Robb
Victor Hugo
1998 Justin Cartwright
Leading the Cheers
Giles Foden
The Last King of Scotland
David Almond
Ted Hughes
Birthday Letters
Blue ribbon
Amanda Foreman
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
1999 Rose Tremain
Music and Silence
Tim Lott
White City Blue
J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Seamus Heaney
Blue ribbon
David Cairns
Berlioz Volume Two: Servitude and Greatness
2000 Matthew Kneale
English Passengers
Blue ribbon
Zadie Smith
White Teeth
Jamila Gavin
Coram Boy
John Burnside
The Asylum Dance
Lorna Sage
Bad Blood – A Memoir
2001 Patrick Neate
Twelve Bar Blues
Sid Smith
Something Like A House
Philip Pullman
The Amber Spyglass
Blue ribbon
Selima Hill
Diana SouhamivSelkirk's Island
2002 Michael Frayn
Norman Lebrecht
The Song of Names
Hilary McKay
Saffy's Angel
Paul Farley
The Ice Age
Claire Tomalin
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
Blue ribbon
2003 Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Blue ribbon
DBC Pierre
Vernon God Little
David Almond
The Fire-Eaters
Don Paterson
Landing Light
DJ Taylor
Orwell: The Life
2004 Andrea Levy
Small Island
Blue ribbon
Susan Fletcher
Eve Green
Geraldine McCaughrean
Not the End of the World
Michael Symmons Roberts
John Guy
My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots
2005 Ali Smith
The Accidental
Tash Aw
The Harmony Silk Factory
Kate Thompson
The New Policeman
Christopher Logue
Cold Calls
Hilary Spurling
Matisse the Master
Blue ribbon
2006 William Boyd
Stef Penney
The Tenderness of Wolves
Blue ribbon
Linda Newbery
Set in Stone
John Haynes
Letter to Patience
Brian Thompson
Keeping Mum
2007 A.L. Kennedy
Blue ribbon
Catherine O'Flynn
What Was Lost
Ann Kelley
The Bower Bird
Jean Sprackland
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Young Stalin
2008 Sebastian Barry
The Secret Scripture
Blue ribbon
Sadie Jones
The Outcast
Michelle Magorian
Just Henry
Adam Foulds
The Broken Word
Diana Athill
Somewhere Towards the End
2009 Colm Tóibin
Kate Thompson
The New Policeman
Patrick Ness
The Ask and the Answer
Christopher Reid
A Scattering
Blue ribbon
Graham Farmelo
The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius
2010 Maggie O'Farrell
The Hand That First Held Mine
Kishwar Desai
Witness the Night
Jason Wallace
Out of Shadows
Jo Shapcott
Of Mutability
Blue ribbon
Edmund de Waal
The Hare with Amber Eyes
2011 Andrew Miller
Blue ribbon
Christie Watson
Tiny Sunbirds Far Away
Moira Young
Blood Red Road
Carol Ann Duffy
The Bees
Matthew Hollis
Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas
2012 Hilary Mantel
Bring up the Bodies
Blue ribbon
Francesca Segal
The Innocents
Sally Gardner
Maggot Moon
Kathleen Jamie
The Overhaul
Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot
Dotter of Her Father's Eyes
Avril Joy
Millie and Bird[5]
2013 Kate Atkinson
Life after Life
Nathan Filer
The Shock of the Fall
Blue ribbon
Chris Riddell
Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
Michael Symmons Roberts
Lucy Hughes-Hallet
The Pike
Angela Readman
The Keeper of the Jackalopes
2014 Ali Smith
How to Be Both
Emma Healey
Elizabeth is Missing
Kate Saunders
Five Children on the Western Front
Jonathan Edwards
My Family and Other Superheroes
Helen Macdonald
H is for Hawk
Blue ribbon
2015 Kate Atkinson
A God in Ruins
Andrew Michael Hurley
The Loney
Frances Hardinge
The Lie Tree
Blue ribbon
Don Paterson
40 Sonnets
Andrea Wulf
The Invention of Nature
"—" not awarded this year

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c (CBA-Past-Winners-2015-Version.pdf). Costa Book Awards. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b (CBA-Past-Shortlists-2015-Version.pdf). Costa Book Awards. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Alison Flood (17 July 2012). "Costa's new short story award to be judged anonymously". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Alison Flood (28 November 2012). "Costa short story prize to be decided by public vote". Alison Flood. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Costa Short Story Award". Costa Book Awards. Retrieved 3 February 2014.

External links[edit]