Belfast Telegraph

Prestigious book prize for Northern Ireland-born novelist

A Londonderry author has become the third from the north west to win one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards.

Coleraine-born Maggie O'Farrell has beaten off competition from authors across the UK and Ireland to take the 2010 Costa Novel Award for her fifth book, The Hand That First Held Mine.

O'Farrell was born in Co Derry in 1972, but spent her childhood in Wales and Scotland, where she now lives.

Ms O’Farrell receives £5,000 as part of the prize and will be put forward for the overall Costa award, to be announced at the end of this month.

The Costa Awards were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2005.

Ulster Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has won the Whitbread Poetry Award three times. He also won Book of the Year for The Spirit Level in 1996 and for Beowulf in 1999.

Jennifer Johnston, who has lived in the Culmore area of Derry for years, won the Whitbread Novel Award for her 1979 book The Old Jest.

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