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British poet Helen Dunmore posthumously wins book of year

British poet and novelist Helen Dunmore has posthumously won the 2017 Costa Book of the Year prize for Inside the Wave, her 10th and final poetry book.

Ms Dunmore, who died of cancer in June last year aged 64, previously won the Poetry Award for the collection, which explores the borderline between the living and the dead.

The judges described Inside the Wave as ‘an astonishing set of poems – a final, great achievement’.

She has become only the second writer in the award’s 46-year history to win the overall prize posthumously.

The last person to do so was Ted Hughes, who won the Poetry Award and Book of the Year in 1998 for Birthday Letters.

It was her 10th and final poetry book

British poet and novelist Helen Dunmore has posthumously won the 2017 Costa Book of the Year prize for Inside the Wave. It was her 10th and final poetry book

Her daughter Tess Charnley (left), son Patrick Charnley (centre), and widower Francis Charnley (right) collected the prize at an awards ceremony in London on Tuesday

Her daughter Tess Charnley (left), son Patrick Charnley (centre), and widower Francis Charnley (right) collected the prize at an awards ceremony in London on Tuesday

Inside the Wave is the eighth poetry collection to take the overall prize at the Costa Book Awards.  

The overall prize is picked from winners in five categories – first novel, novel, biography, poetry and children’s book.

Her son Patrick Charnley told the Telegraph when she was nominated: ‘A lot of the poems in here are about her illness and about her dying and I think in that sense that they are very generous poems. She gives a lot, and someone who is that ill wouldn’t always give.

‘She said that almost never had poetry come so easily to her. With some of these poems she said that there was no writing, they just came to her and it was a question of recording them. There was obviously something closely related between her dying and her poetry.’ 

The poetry collection dealt with her cancer, which she died from aged 64 in June last year, and the borderline between the living and the dead

The poetry collection dealt with her cancer, which she died from aged 64 in June last year, and the borderline between the living and the dead

Tess, Patrick and Francis beamed as they posed for pictures after accepting the Winner of the Costa Book Awards 2017 on Ms Dunmore's behalf

Tess, Patrick and Francis beamed as they posed for pictures after accepting the Winner of the Costa Book Awards 2017 on Ms Dunmore’s behalf

Ms Dunmore’s son Patrick, daughter Tess and widower Francis Charnley collected the prize – a cheque for £30,000 – at an awards ceremony in London on Tuesday.

Wendy Holden, chair of the final judges, said of Inside the Wave: ‘We all felt this is a modern classic; a fantastic collection, life affirming and uplifting.

‘The poems carry powerful messages that speak to all of us.’

Ms Dunmore beat Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, the bookies’ favourite, to the accolade.

The other nominees in the running for Costa Book of the Year were In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott, Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor and Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer.

Luan Goldie, a primary school teacher and former business journalist, topped a public vote to be named the winner of the Costa Short Story Award for her story Two Steak Bakes And Two Chelsea Buns.

She was awarded £3,500, while two runners-up, civil servant Chris Hunter and poet Frances Ainslie received £1,000 and £500 respectively. 

Wendy Holden, chair of the final judges, said of Inside the Wave: 'We all felt this is a modern classic; a fantastic collection, life affirming and uplifting'

Wendy Holden, chair of the final judges, said of Inside the Wave: ‘We all felt this is a modern classic; a fantastic collection, life affirming and uplifting’

Tess Charnley celebrates after her late mother Helen Dunmore won the Costa Book of the Year Award for a book of poems which judges described as ‘breathtaking’

It beat Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (far left), Rebecca Stott's novel In the Days of Rain (left), Jon McGregor's book Reservoir 13 (centre) and Katherine Rundell's novel The Explorer (right). Pictured: The nominees together with Mr Charnley

It beat Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (far left), Rebecca Stott’s novel In the Days of Rain (left), Jon McGregor’s book Reservoir 13 (centre) and Katherine Rundell’s novel The Explorer (right). Pictured: The nominees together with Mr Charnley

Gail Honeyman poses with her book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which was described by judges as 'tender, touching, endearing and heartbreaking in equal measure'

Gail Honeyman poses with her book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which was described by judges as ‘tender, touching, endearing and heartbreaking in equal measure’

Costa Book Awards nominee Jon McGregor is pictured with his book Reservoir 13, which was shortlisted by judges sho said it was 'poetic, haunting and hypnotic'

Costa Book Awards nominee Jon McGregor is pictured with his book Reservoir 13, which was shortlisted by judges sho said it was ‘poetic, haunting and hypnotic’

Katherine Rundell, another nominee, holds up a copy of The Explorer, praised by the shortlisting judges as 'a masterful, delicious read from start to finish'

Katherine Rundell, another nominee, holds up a copy of The Explorer, praised by the shortlisting judges as ‘a masterful, delicious read from start to finish’

Rebecca Stott, who teaches English literature and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, is pictured with her novel In The Days Of Rain

Rebecca Stott, who teaches English literature and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, is pictured with her novel In The Days Of Rain

Patrick Charnley is pictured with his mother's book Inside the Wave. The judges said that 'we were all stunned' by the collection of poems 

Patrick Charnley is pictured with his mother’s book Inside the Wave. The judges said that ‘we were all stunned’ by the collection of poems 

Broadcaster Sian Williams, formerly of the BBC and now of Channel 5, is pictured at the Costa Book Awards where she has served as one of the judges

Broadcaster Sian Williams, formerly of the BBC and now of Channel 5, is pictured at the Costa Book Awards where she has served as one of the judges

Television presenter Andrea Catherwood is pictured at the 2018 Costa Book Awards

Television presenter Kate Garraway is pictured at the 2018 Costa Book Awards

Television presenters Andrea Catherwood (left) and Kate Garraway (right) are pictured at the 2018 Costa Book Awards

Author and presenter Fern Britton (left) was on the final judging panel for this year's awards, while fellow broadcaster Penny Smith (right) hosted the award ceremony

Author and presenter Fern Britton (left) was on the final judging panel for this year’s awards, while fellow broadcaster Penny Smith (right) hosted the award ceremony



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