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Helen Dunmore wins posthumous Costa poetry prize


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Dunmore died at the age of 64 – she was diagnosed with cancer while writing her final novel, Birdcage Walk

Helen Dunmore has won the Costa Book prize for poetry for her 10th and final collection, Inside the Wave.

She was named on Tuesday along with four other winners across five categories in the Costa Book Awards.

The poet and novelist died from cancer in June last year.

Inside the Wave explores the borderline between the living and the dead and includes her final poem, Hold Out Your Arms, written shortly before her death.

The judges described the collection as “a final, great achievement”.

Also honoured was Gail Honeyman, who picked up the Costa first novel award for her debut, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

It tells the story of a survivor of a childhood trauma, which is to be adapted for the big screen by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine.

Separatist cult

Jon McGregor triumphed in the novel award category with his fourth novel, Reservoir 13, the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss.

The judges – who include BBC News presenter Sophie Raworth, actor Art Malik and presenter and author Fern Britton – described it as “hypnotic, compelling and original.”

Rebecca Stott, took the biography award for In The Days of Rain, a family memoir about her life – and her late father’s life – inside the Exclusive Brethren, a Christian fundamentalist separatist cult.

The children’s book prize went to Katherine Rundell for The Explorer, an adventure story set in the Amazon rainforest.

The five winners, each of whom will receive £5,000, were selected from 620 entries.

A final nine-member panel will select one of the titles as the overall Costa Book of the Year, to be announced at a ceremony in London on 30 January.


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