HILARY Mantel has won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for her novel Bring up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall, which won the prize in 2009.

Mantel is the first woman and the first living British author to win the prestigious literary prize twice.

“This double accolade is uniquely deserved,” said Sir Peter Stothard, chairman of the judges. The book is about Thomas Cromwell, an adviser to King Henry VIII, and charts the bloody downfall of Anne Boleyn. It is the second book in a trilogy.

A third installment, to be called The Mirror and the Light, will continue Cromwell’s story until his execution in 1540. Mantel was announced as the winner at London’s Guildhall on Tuesday night. Mantel’s win also makes her the first person in Man Booker history to win the prize for a direct sequel. She is only the third double winner of the award, after JM Coetzee and Peter Carey. Receiving her award, she joked: “You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize and two come along at once.”

She added: “I know how privileged and lucky I am to be standing here tonight. I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence.”

As well as the £50,000 cheque she also receives £2,500 for being shortlisted, along with the other five novelists in the race.

Sir Peter said that the judges had made their final decision on Tuesday after a “lengthy and forensic examination”.     –BBC