Costa Book AwardsBiography

Given by Costa Coffee

Other Names: Whitbread Book Awards (1971-2005), Costa Book of the Year, Whitbread Award, Whitbread Book of the Year, , Whitbread first novel prize
131 Works 0 Books

From 1971 to 2021 the Costa Book award was one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in the UK and recognised some of the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and

show more Ireland. The Costa Book Awards is unique in many ways, not least in having five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children's Book. The winner in each category receives £5,000. One of these five books is selected as the overall winner of the Book of the Year and receives a further £25,000, making a total prize fund of £50,000. It is the only prize which places children's books alongside adult books in this way.


The Costa Book Awards started life in 1971 as the Whitbread Literary Awards. From 1985 they were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006, when Costa Coffee took over ownership - the year that both Costa and the Book Awards celebrated their 35th anniversary. Since 1971, the awards have rewarded a wide range of excellent books and authors across all genres.


Since the introduction of the overall Book of the Year Award in 1985, it has been won seven times by a novel, three times by a first novel, five times by a biography, five times by a collection of poetry and once by a children's book. The 2021 Costa Book Awards held in February 2022 was our 50th and final awards. show less

Stages:
All, Winner (400), Shortlist (647)
Categories:
All, Biography (131), Book of the Year (12), Children's Book (129), First Book (2), First Novel (124), Novel (136), Poetry (115), No Category (10)
Years:
All, 2021 (4), 2020 (4), 2019 (4), 2018 (4), 2017 (4), 2016 (4), 2015 (4), 2014 (4), 2013 (4), 2012 (4), 2011 (4), 2010 (3), 2009 (4), 2008 (4), 2007 (4), 2006 (4), 2005 (4), 2004 (4), 2003 (4), 2002 (4), 2001 (4), 2000 (4), 1999 (3), 1998 (3), 1997 (5), 1996 (4), 1995 (4), 1994 (1), 1993 (1), 1992 (1), 1991 (1), 1990 (1), 1989 (1), 1988 (1), 1987 (1), 1986 (1), 1985 (1), 1984 (1), 1983 (2), 1982 (1), 1981 (1), 1980 (1), 1979 (1), 1978 (1), 1977 (1), 1976 (1), 1975 (1), 1974 (1), 1973 (1), 1972 (1), 1971 (1)

Winner 78

WorkYear
Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston2021
The Louder I Will Sing by Lee Lawrence2020
The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather2019
The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found by Bart Van Es2018
In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott2017
Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory by Keggie Carew2016
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf2015
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald2014
The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett2013
Dotter of her Father's Eyes by Mary M. Talbot2012
Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis2011
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund De Waal2010
The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo2009
Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir by Diana Athill2008
Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore2007
Keeping Mum: A Wartime Childhood by Brian Thompson2006
Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce by Nigel Farndale2005
Nature Cure by Richard Mabey2005
Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters2005
Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour: 1909-1954 by Hilary Spurling2005
Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy2004
Jabez: The Rise and Fall of a Victorian Rogue by David McKie2004
Stephen Spender: A Literary Life by John Sutherland2004
V. S. Pritchett: A Working Life by Jeremy Treglown2004
The Iron Lady by John Campbell2003
Martha Gellhorn: A Life by Caroline Moorehead2003
Orwell: The Life by D. J. Taylor2003
Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson2003
Anthony Blunt: His Lives by Miranda Carter2002
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox2002
The Real Mrs. Miniver by Ysenda Maxtone-Graham2002
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin2002
Vermeer: A View of Delft by Anthony Bailey2001
Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson by Adam Sisman2001
Selkirk's Island: The True and Strange Adventures of the Real Robinson Crusoe by Diana Souhami2001
Flaubert: A Life by Geoffrey Wall2001
Fanny Burney: A Biography by Claire Harman2000
John Ruskin: The Later Years by Tim Hilton2000
Hitler: 1936-1945: Nemesis by Ian Kershaw2000
Bad Blood: A Memoir by Lorna Sage2000
Berlioz: Volume Two: Servitude and Greatness, 1832-1869 by David Cairns1999
Bruce Chatwin by Nicholas Shakespeare1999
The Unknown Matisse by Hilary Spurling1999
Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch by John Bayley1998
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman1998
Hitler: 1889-1936: Hubris by Ian Kershaw1998
Violet: The Life and Loves of Violet Gordon Woodhouse by Jessica Douglas-Home1997
Victor Hugo: A Biography by Graham Robb1997
The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of 'Joe' Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water by Kate Summerscale1997
Citizen Lord: The Life of Edward Fitzgerald, Irish Revolutionary by Stella Tillyard1997
Hogarth : a life and a world by Jenny Uglow1997
Thomas Cranmer: A Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch1996
Gladstone by Roy Jenkins1995
D.H. Lawrence: The Story of a Marriage by Brenda Maddox1994
Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Andrew Motion1993
Anthony Trollope by Victoria Glendinning1992
A Life of Picasso, Volume 1: 1881-1906 by John Richardson1991
A. A. Milne: His Life by Ann Thwaite1990
Coleridge: Early Visions, 1772-1804 by Richard Holmes1989
Tolstoy by A. N. Wilson1988
Under the Eye of the Clock by Christopher Nolan1987
Gilbert White by Richard Mabey1986
Hugh Dalton: A Life by Ben Pimlott1985
T.S. Eliot: A Life by Peter Ackroyd1984
Vita: The Life of V. Sackville-West by Victoria Glendinning1983
King George V by Kenneth Rose1983
Bismarck by Edward Crankshaw1982
Monty: The Making of a General : 1887-1942 by Nigel Hamilton1981
On the Edge of Paradise: A.C.Benson the Diarist by David Newsome1980
About Time: An Aspect of Autobiography by Penelope Mortimer1979
Lloyd George: The People's Champion 1902-1911 by John Grigg1978
Mary Curzon by Nigel Nicolson1977
Elizabeth Gaskell: A Biography by Winifred Gerin1976
In our infancy : an autobiography by Helen Corke1975
Poor Dear Brendan: Quest for Brendan Bracken by Andrew Boyle1974
CB: A life of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman by John Wilson1973
Anthony Trollope by James Pope-Hennessy1972
Henrik Ibsen: The Making of a Dramatist 1828-1864 by Michael Leverson Meyer1971

Shortlist 131

WorkYear
Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston2021
Consumed: A Sister's Story by Arifa Akbar2021
The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest by Ed Caesar2021
Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi2021
The Louder I Will Sing by Lee Lawrence2020
The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes2020
Dear Life: A Doctor's Story of Love and Loss by Rachel Clarke2020
Ghost Town: A Liverpool Shadowplay by Jeff Young2020
The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather2019
On Chapel Sands: My mother and other missing persons by Laura Cumming2019
In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum2019
The Making of Poetry by Adam Nicolson2019
The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found by Bart Van Es2018
To Throw Away Unopened: A Memoir by Viv Albertine2018
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn2018
The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah: The Autobiography by Benjamin Zephaniah2018
In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott2017
Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up by Xiaolu Guo2017
A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Rossellis and the Fight Against Mussolini by Caroline Moorehead2017
Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon's Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table by Stephen Westaby2017
Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory by Keggie Carew2016
Elizabeth: The Later Years by John Guy2016
The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar2016
I'm Not with the Band: A Writer's Life Lost in Music by Sylvia Patterson2016
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf2015
The story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the secret history of Wonderland by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst2015
The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding2015
John Aubrey: my own life by Ruth Scurr2015
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald2014
Roy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life by John Campbell2014
The Iceberg by Marion Coutts2014
Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh2014
The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett2013
Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins by Gavin Francis2013
Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding2013
The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing2013
Dotter of her Father's Eyes by Mary M. Talbot2012
Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper2012
The Crocodile by the Door: The Story of a House, a Farm and a Family by Selina Guinness2012
Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household by Kate Hubbard2012
Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis2011
Thin Paths: Journeys in and around an Italian Mountain Village by Julia Blackburn2011
Henry's Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son's Story by Patrick Cockburn2011
Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin2011
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund De Waal2010
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell2010
My Father's Fortune: A Life by Michael Frayn2010
The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo2009
The Music Room by William Fiennes2009
Coda by Simon Gray2009
Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era by Caroline Moorehead2009
Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir by Diana Athill2008
Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes by Judith Mackrell2008
The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton by Sathnam Sanghera2008
Chagall: A Biography by Jackie Wullschlager2008
Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore2007
Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanagh2007
Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre2007
Fatty Batter: How Cricket Saved My Life (And Then Ruined It) by Michael Simkins2007
Keeping Mum: A Wartime Childhood by Brian Thompson2006
George Mackay Brown: The Life by Maggie Fergusson2006
John Donne: The Reformed Soul: A Biography by John Stubbs2006
Nabeel's Song: A Family Story of Survival in Iraq by Jo Tatchell2006
Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce by Nigel Farndale2005
Nature Cure by Richard Mabey2005
Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters2005
Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour: 1909-1954 by Hilary Spurling2005
Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy2004
Jabez: The Rise and Fall of a Victorian Rogue by David McKie2004
Stephen Spender: A Literary Life by John Sutherland2004
V. S. Pritchett: A Working Life by Jeremy Treglown2004
The Iron Lady by John Campbell2003
Martha Gellhorn: A Life by Caroline Moorehead2003
Orwell: The Life by D. J. Taylor2003
Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson2003
Anthony Blunt: His Lives by Miranda Carter2002
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox2002
The Real Mrs. Miniver by Ysenda Maxtone-Graham2002
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin2002
Vermeer: A View of Delft by Anthony Bailey2001
Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson by Adam Sisman2001
Selkirk's Island: The True and Strange Adventures of the Real Robinson Crusoe by Diana Souhami2001
Flaubert: A Life by Geoffrey Wall2001
Fanny Burney: A Biography by Claire Harman2000
John Ruskin: The Later Years by Tim Hilton2000
Hitler: 1936-1945: Nemesis by Ian Kershaw2000
Bad Blood: A Memoir by Lorna Sage2000
Berlioz: Volume Two: Servitude and Greatness, 1832-1869 by David Cairns1999
Bruce Chatwin by Nicholas Shakespeare1999
The Unknown Matisse by Hilary Spurling1999
Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch by John Bayley1998
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman1998
Hitler: 1889-1936: Hubris by Ian Kershaw1998
Violet: The Life and Loves of Violet Gordon Woodhouse by Jessica Douglas-Home1997
Victor Hugo: A Biography by Graham Robb1997
The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of 'Joe' Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water by Kate Summerscale1997
Citizen Lord: The Life of Edward Fitzgerald, Irish Revolutionary by Stella Tillyard1997
Hogarth : a life and a world by Jenny Uglow1997
Thomas Cranmer: A Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch1996
George Eliot: A Life by Rosemary Ashton1996
The Unruly Queen by Flora Fraser1996
Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett by James Knowlson1996
Gladstone by Roy Jenkins1995
Vera Brittain: A Life by Paul Berry1995
Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth by Gitta Sereny1995
Terence Rattigan by Geoffrey Wansell1995
D.H. Lawrence: The Story of a Marriage by Brenda Maddox1994
Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Andrew Motion1993
Anthony Trollope by Victoria Glendinning1992
A Life of Picasso, Volume 1: 1881-1906 by John Richardson1991
A. A. Milne: His Life by Ann Thwaite1990
Coleridge: Early Visions, 1772-1804 by Richard Holmes1989
Tolstoy by A. N. Wilson1988
Under the Eye of the Clock by Christopher Nolan1987
Gilbert White by Richard Mabey1986
Hugh Dalton: A Life by Ben Pimlott1985
T.S. Eliot: A Life by Peter Ackroyd1984
Vita: The Life of V. Sackville-West by Victoria Glendinning1983
King George V by Kenneth Rose1983
Bismarck by Edward Crankshaw1982
Monty: The Making of a General : 1887-1942 by Nigel Hamilton1981
On the Edge of Paradise: A.C.Benson the Diarist by David Newsome1980
About Time: An Aspect of Autobiography by Penelope Mortimer1979
Lloyd George: The People's Champion 1902-1911 by John Grigg1978
Mary Curzon by Nigel Nicolson1977
Elizabeth Gaskell: A Biography by Winifred Gerin1976
In our infancy : an autobiography by Helen Corke1975
Poor Dear Brendan: Quest for Brendan Bracken by Andrew Boyle1974
CB: A life of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman by John Wilson1973
Anthony Trollope by James Pope-Hennessy1972
Henrik Ibsen: The Making of a Dramatist 1828-1864 by Michael Leverson Meyer1971

Descriptions

From 1971 to 2021 the Costa Book award was one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in the UK and recognised some of the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland. The Costa Book Awards is unique in many ways, not least in having five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children's Book. The winner in each category receives £5,000. One of these five books is selected as the overall winner of the Book of the Year and receives a further £25,000, making a total prize fund of £50,000. It is the only prize which places children's books alongside adult books in this way.


The Costa Book Awards started life in 1971 as the Whitbread Literary Awards. From 1985 they were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006, when Costa Coffee took over ownership - the year that both Costa and the Book Awards celebrated their 35th anniversary. Since 1971, the awards have rewarded a wide range of excellent books and authors across all genres.


Since the introduction of the overall Book of the Year Award in 1985, it has been won seven times by a novel, three times by a first novel, five times by a biography, five times by a collection of poetry and once by a children's book. The 2021 Costa Book Awards held in February 2022 was our 50th and final awards.

(English, Member-written)
discontinued (Russian, Member-written)

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