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Prize success at last for Ali Smith

It is success at last for A li Smith, who has won the £30,000 B aileys Women's Prize for Fiction after losing out on a string of high-profile literary awards.

The writer, who picked up the award at an event in the Royal Festival Hall on London's Southbank , has been acclaimed by the critics for How To Be Both, which examines the lives of a Italian renaissance painter and a modern-day teenager mourning their mother.

She has been shortlisted for - but m issed out on - the Man Booker, the Folio Prize and the Costa Book Award in the last 12 months.

Shami Chakrabarti, who chaired the judging panel, said: "Ancient and modern meet and speak to each other in this tender, brilliant and witty novel of grief, love, sexuality and shape-shifting identity."

Ms Smith, who was made a CBE in the New Year Honours List, was born in Inverness but now lives in Cambridge.

Her story beat novels by writers including Sarah Waters and Anne Tyler.

The award, previously known as the Orange prize, is open to all women writing in English.

Previous winners include Zadie Smith for On Beauty, Lionel Shriver for We Need To Talk About Kevin and last year's recipient Eimear McBride for A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing.

Its co-founder, novelist Kate Mosse, said: " In this, our 20th year, it is wonderful to see our partnership with Baileys going from strength to strength. Our retail and media partnerships in 2015 have been hugely successful in promoting outstanding fiction by women to an even wider range of readers, both in the UK and throughout the world."

Accepting her award, Smith said: "Are you sure? I can't believe I'm up here. I really am shocked, speechless. Thank you to Sarah, my darling my partner who has seen me through these books. This is unbelievable, it's not even my birthday."

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