The biennial Portico Literature Prize announces winner at Manchester Town Hall

Top authors descended upon Manchester Town Hall for the region's most prestigious literary prize.

Top authors descended upon Manchester Town Hall for the region’s most prestigious literary prize. The biennial Portico Prize was announced at a glamorous dinner in the baronial splendour of the Great Hall.

The Portico gives a total of �10,000 to the author of the best fiction and non-fiction books. Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Jean Sprackland won the best non-fiction prize for her book, Strands. Sarah Hall, a Cumbrian-based novelist won the fiction prize for The Beautiful Indifference.

The prize takes its name from the historic Portico Library and Gallery on Mosley Street in the city centre. The neoclassical Grade 1 listed building with a domed ceiling opened in 1806 as ‘an institute uniting the advantages of a newsroom and a library’ but its literary prize was not founded until 1985.

It has been won by many famous Northern authors including Mancunian Anthony Burgess who wrote A Clockwork Orange and the former Greater Manchester Police deputy chief constable John Stalker, who now lives near Alderley Edge.

Sarah and Jean toasted their success along with 300 guests including the DJ Stuart Maconie and Allo Allo actor Arthur Bostrom, both on the judging panel. TV presenter and author Joan Bakewell and award-winning poet and essayist Simon Armitage CBE were also among the guests.

Elbow’s frontman Guy Garvey was there with his partner Emma Unsworth from Whitefield, who had been shortlisted for her novel Hungry, The Stars and Everything. Also shortlisted were Jeanette Winterson from Accrington for Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? and Val McDermid for The Retribution.

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