Saturday 7 December 2019

Helen Dunmore is the posthumous winner of the Costa Poetry Award

The British poet, novelist and children’s writer died at the age of 64 after fighting cancer.

Helen Dunmore (Caroline Forbes)
Helen Dunmore (Caroline Forbes)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Helen Dunmore’s final poetry collection before her death has won a major literary prize.

Inside The Wave, which receives the Costa Poetry Award, explores the borderline between the living and the dead.

The British poet, novelist and children’s writer died of cancer last year, at the age of 64.


Judges called the collection, her 10th, “an astonishing set of poems” and “a final, great achievement”, saying that they possess a “spare, eloquent lyricism” as they explore the “underworld and the human, living world”.

Inside The Wave is one of five books now in the running for the overall 2017 Costa Book Of The Year.

But favourite to win, according to bookies, is debut author Gail Honeyman.

Gail Honeyman (Philippa Gedge)

The Scottish writer, 46, wins the Costa First Novel Award for Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, the story of a survivor of a childhood trauma.

The story, “depicting the loneliness of life and the simple power of kindness”, is being adapted for the big screen by actress Reese Witherspoon’s production company.

The book, written while the author was working full-time in a career in economic development and university administration, was the subject of an eight-way auction at Frankfurt Book Fair and has since gone on to sell worldwide.

Honeyman began writing as she turned 40 and thinking “this might be the time to try something different”.

Rebecca Stott wins best biography for In The Days Of Rain, a memoir about life inside the Exclusive Brethren, a Christian fundamentalist separatist cult.

Rebecca Stott (Ev Sekkides)

Jon McGregor scoops the Costa Novel Award for Reservoir 13,  a “hypnotic, compelling and original” story of lives haunted by one family’s loss.

He is the only man on the five-strong winners’ list – with the same thing happening in 2014.

Jon McGregor (Costa)

Katherine Rundell wins the Children’s Book Award for her fourth book, The Explorer, an adventure story of four children fighting for survival in the Amazon rainforest.

Katherine Rundell (David Azia)

The Costa Book Awards are open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland for titles published in the last year.

An overall winner, chosen by a panel of judges, will be announced on January 30 in London.

The 2016 Costa Book of the Year was Days Without End by Sebastian Barry.

:: 2017 Costa Book Award Winners with odds from William Hill

Costa First Novel Award
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman (7-4)

Costa Novel Award
Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor (9-2)

Costa Biography Award
In The Days Of Rain, Rebecca Stott (6-1)

Costa Poetry Award
Inside the Wave, Helen Dunmore (2-1)

Costa Children’s Book Award
The Explorer, Katherine Rundell (7-1)

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