A WINCHESTER author, who only started writing when she turned 40, has been awarded a prestigious national book award.

Tonight (Tuesday) Claire Fuller was announced as the winner in the Novel category in this year’s Costa Book Awards for her book Unsettled Ground.

The judges described it as ‘a beautiful, nuanced observation of the richness and pain of marginalised life’.

Claire gained a degree in sculpture from Winchester School of Art but went on to have a long career in marketing and didn’t start writing until she was 40.

She has written three former novels: Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize; Swimming Lessons, which was shortlisted for the RSL Encore Award, and Bitter Orange. Unsettled Ground, shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021, is a portrait of twins living on the fringes of society.

She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in the city with her husband and two children.

Claire is one of five authors announced as winners in the UK’s most prestigious book prize, which has been running since 2006.

The authors, each of whom will receive £5,000, were selected from 934 entries and their books are now eligible for the ultimate prize – the 2021 Costa Book of the Year.

The others are:

  • Costa First Novel Award: Caleb Azumah Nelson - Open Water
  • Costa Biography Award: John Preston - Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell
  • Costa Poetry Award: Hannah Lowe - The Kids
  • Costa Children’s Book Award: Manjeet Mann - The Crossing

Jill McDonald, chief executive of Costa Coffee, said: “Here are five fantastic books for readers to explore, recommend and share, ideally whilst enjoying a great cup of Costa coffee! We’re celebrating a milestone 50th anniversary year for the Costa Book Awards, and the range and breadth of this year’s category winners illustrates the Awards’ longstanding appeal, as the home of enjoyable reads to suit all tastes. Congratulations to all this year’s category Award-winning authors.”

The overall winner of the 2021 Costa Book of the Year will receive £30,000 and be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday February 1.