25/01/2006

Spurling wins Whitbread award

Biographer Hilary Spurling has won the 2005 Whitbread Book of the Year award for the second part of her biography of artist Henri Matisse.

'Matisse the Master' took Ms Spurling 15 years to complete. Ms Spurling was chosen over four other Whitbread winners to collect the overall £25,000 prize.

'Matisse the Master' beat 'The Accidental' by Ali Smith which was the bookmakers' favourite, first-time novelist Tash Aw for 'The Harmony Silk Factory', poet Christopher Logue for 'Cold Calls' and children's book 'The New Policeman' by Kate Thompson.

Ms Spurling was presented with her cheque at the awards ceremony at the Brewery in central London.

Following the judging, Michael Morpurgo, chair of the judging panel, said: "We all agreed that when you get to the end of this book, you are sorry it has finished; an extraordinary achievement for a book of this length."

It is the fifth biography to win the overall Whitbread prize. Claire Tomalin's biography of Samuel Pepys' 'The Unequalled Self' was the last biography to win the prize, back in 2002.

(KMcA/SP)

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