Costa Book Awards

(Redirected from Whitbread Prize)

The Costa Book Awards were a set of annual literary awards recognising English-language books by writers based in UK and Ireland. Originally named the Whitbread Book Awards from 1971 to 2005 after its first sponsor, the Whitbread company, then a brewery and owner of restaurant chains, it was renamed when Costa Coffee, then a subsidiary of Whitbread, took over sponsorship.[1][2] The companion Costa Short Story Award was established in 2012.[3] Costa Coffee was purchased by the Coca-Cola Company in 2018. The awards were abruptly terminated in 2022.[4]

Costa Book Awards
Awarded forEnglish-language books by writers based in the UK and Ireland
CountryUnited Kingdom and Republic of Ireland
Presented byCosta Coffee
Formerly calledWhitbread Book Awards
First awarded1971; 53 years ago (1971)
Last awarded2021; 3 years ago (2021)

The awards were given both for high literary merit and for works that were enjoyable reading, and their aim was to convey the enjoyment of reading to the widest possible audience. As such, they were considered a more populist literary prize than the Booker Prize, which also limited winners to literature written in the English language and published in the UK and Ireland.

Awards were separated into six categories: Biography, Children's Books, First Novel, Novel, Poetry, and Short Story.

In 1989, there was controversy 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.



The 1989 Whitbread Book Award for Best Novel was first awarded to The War Zone by Alexander Stuart.[5] However, juror Jane Gardam felt the book was "repellent" and appealed directly to the Whitbread company, arguing that awarding the prize to Stuart's novel would make them into a "laughing stock".[6] After ten days, and leaking the story to the press, the other two jurors, David Cook and Val Hennessy, were persuaded to change their minds, and Lindsay Clarke's The Chymical Wedding won the award instead. Both Cook and Hennessy found the experience so unpleasant they vowed to never sit in an award jury again.[7]

The awards were discontinued in 2022, with the 2021 awards being the last ones made.[4][8] Just one month later, the Blue Peter Book Award was also discontinued; this left only three widely recognized awards for UK children's literature (the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, the Carnegie Medal, and the Kate Greenaway Medal).[9]



There were five book award categories. These had not been changed since the Poetry Award was introduced in 1985, although the children's category had been termed "children's novel" or "children's book of the year".[1][2] The categories are:

  • Novel
  • First novel
  • Children's book
  • Poetry
  • Biography

Each of the five winning writers received £5,000. The prize required a £5,000 fee from publishers if a book was to be shortlisted.[10]

Short stories


The short story award was established in 2012 with a prize of £3,500 for the first, £1,000 for the second and £500 for the third.[11] The winning story was determined by public vote from a shortlist of six that were selected by a panel of judges. The process was "blind" at both stages for the unpublished entries were anonymous until the conclusion.[3][12]

In the inaugural year, the six short story finalists were exposed anonymously online while the public vote was underway, two months before the winner was to be announced.[12]



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

For lists that include shortlisted entries (where available), please see:

List of award winners

Year Award Notes & Refs
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 Walsh
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
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
Ben Pimlott
Hugh Dalton
1986 Kazuo Ishiguro
An Artist of the Floating World
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
1988 Salman Rushdie
The Satanic Verses
Paul Sayer
The Comforts of Madness
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
1990 Nicholas Mosley
Hopeful Monsters
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
1992 Alasdair Gray
Poor Things
Jeff Torrington
Swing Hammer Swing!
Gillian Cross
The Great Elephant Chase
Tony Harrison
The Gaze of the Gorgon
Victoria Glendinning
1993 Joan Brady
Theory of War
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
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
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
Diarmaid MacCulloch
Thomas Cranmer: A Life
1997 Jim Crace
Pauline Melville
The Ventriloquist's Tale
Andrew Norriss
Ted Hughes
Tales from Ovid
Graham Robb
Victor Hugo
1998 Justin Cartwright
Leading the Cheers
Giles Foden
The Last King of Scotland
David Almond
Ted Hughes
Birthday Letters
Amanda Foreman
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
Posthumous Book of the Year Award
1999 Rose Tremain
Music and Silence
Tim Lott
White City Blue
J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Seamus Heaney
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
David Cairns
Berlioz Volume Two: Servitude and Greatness
2000 Matthew Kneale
English Passengers
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
Selima Hill
Diana Souhami
Selkirk'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
2003 Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
DBC Pierre
Vernon God Little
David Almond
The Fire-Eaters
Don Paterson
Landing Light (poetry collection)
DJ Taylor
Orwell: The Life
2004 Andrea Levy
Small Island
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
2006 William Boyd
Stef Penney
The Tenderness of Wolves
Linda Newbery
Set in Stone
John Haynes
Letter to Patience
Brian Thompson
Keeping Mum
2007 A.L. Kennedy
Catherine O'Flynn
What Was Lost
Ann Kelley
The Bower Bird
Jean Sprackland
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Young Stalin
2008 Sebastian Barry
The Secret Scripture
Sadie Jones
The Outcast
Michelle Magorian
Just Henry
Adam Foulds
The Broken Word
Diana Athill
Somewhere Towards the End
2009 Colm Tóibin
Raphael Selbourne
Patrick Ness
The Ask and the Answer
Christopher Reid
A Scattering
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
Edmund de Waal
The Hare with Amber Eyes
2011 Andrew Miller
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
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
2013 Kate Atkinson
Life after Life
Nathan Filer
The Shock of the Fall
Chris Riddell
Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse
Michael Symmons Roberts
Lucy Hughes-Hallett
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
Zoe Gilbert
Fishskin, Hareskin
2015 Kate Atkinson
A God in Ruins
Andrew Michael Hurley
The Loney
Frances Hardinge
The Lie Tree
Don Paterson
40 Sonnets
Andrea Wulf
The Invention of Nature
Danny Murphy
2016 Sebastian Barry
Days Without End
Francis Spufford
Golden Hill
Brian Conaghan
The Bombs That Brought Us Together
Alice Oswald
Falling Awake
Keggie Carew
Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory
Jess Kidd
Dirty Little Fishes
2017 Jon McGregor
Reservoir 13
Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Katherine Rundell
The Explorer
Helen Dunmore
Inside the Wave
Rebecca Stott
In the Days of Rain
Posthumous Book of the Year Award[14]
2018 Sally Rooney
Normal People
Stuart Turton
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Hilary McKay
The Skylarks' War
J. O. Morgan
Bart van Es
The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found
2019 Jonathan Coe
Middle England
Sara Collins
The Confessions of Frannie Langton
Jasbinder Bilan
Asha & the Spirit Bird
Mary Jean Chan
Jack Fairweather
The Volunteer
2020 Monique Roffey
The Mermaid of Black Conch: A Love Story
Ingrid Persaud
Love After Love
Natasha Farrant
Voyage of the Sparrowhawk
Eavan Boland
The Historians
Lee Lawrence
The Louder I Will Sing
Tessa Sheridan
The Person Who Serves, Serves Again
2021 Claire Fuller, Unsettled Ground Caleb Azumah Nelson, Open Water Manjeet Mann, The Crossing Hannah Lowe, The Kids   John Preston, Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell [19]
Year Novel First novel Children's book Poetry Biography Short story Notes & Refs
"—" not awarded this year

See also



  1. ^ a b c "CBA Past Winners 2015 Version" (PDF). Costa Book Awards. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 September 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b "CBA Past Shortlists 2015 Version" (PDF). Costa Book Awards. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b Alison Flood (17 July 2012). "Costa's new short story award to be judged anonymously". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b Barnett, David (10 June 2022). "Costa book awards scrapped suddenly after 50 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  5. ^ Kelly, Laura (11 January 2000). "The Wrath of Roth". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on 1 July 2021.
  6. ^ "The War Zone Diary", page 222 of the War Zone, Stuart, Alexander, ISBN 0385249535, Doubleday, 1989
  7. ^ David Streitfeld (10 December 1989). "Book Report". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 1330888409. Archived from the original on 27 August 2017.
  8. ^ Armitstead, Claire (23 June 2022). "Shock ending: how the Costa book awards changed reading – and pitted husband against wife". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  9. ^ Shaffi, Sarah (6 July 2022). "Children's books world reacts to 'horrible loss' of Blue Peter book awards". Archived from the original on 29 May 2023.
  10. ^ Danuta Kean (2 January 2017). "On eve of Costa awards, experts warn that top books prizes are harming fiction". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2018. The biggest three prizes, including the Costas, require a £5,000 fee from publishers if a book is shortlisted. This is a contribution towards marketing and should, the organisers claim, be offset by increases in sales.
  11. ^ "The Costa Short Story Award terms and conditions of entry" (PDF). Costa. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Costa Short Story Award" Archived 15 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Costa Book Awards. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  14. ^ "Costa Book Awards 2017" (PDF). Costa Book Awards. January 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 January 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Costa Book Awards 2018: the category award winners are..." BBC. January 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  16. ^ Chandler, Mark (28 January 2020). "Costa Book of the Year won by Fairweather's The Volunteer". The Bookseller. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  17. ^ Doyle, Martin (6 January 2020). "Costa Book Awards 2019 winners revealed". The Irish Times. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Costa Book of the Year: 'Utterly original' Mermaid of Black Conch wins". BBC. January 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  19. ^ "Costa Book Awards 2021 category winners announced". Costa. Retrieved 5 January 2022.