The prize-winning book tells the story of Anne Boleyn through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII. Judges said it “utterly surpassed” its predecessor, Wolf Hall, which won the prize in 2009.

Sir Peter Stothard, chairman of the judges, said Mantel was “the greatest English prose writer” of modern times and admired the way she has retold one of the most familiar episodes in British history, reports the Telegraph.

Mantel, the first female and British writer to win the literary award twice, joked: “You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize and two come along at once…”

Only two writers have done the double before, JM Coetzee and Peter Carey, from from South Africa and Australia respectively.

Mantel’s first historical novel was turned down by a string of publishers who said her work was too weighty for readers who preferred “chick lit in long frocks”.

When she accepted the award, she said: “I have to do something very difficult now: I have to go away and write the third part of the trilogy.  I assure you I have no expectations that I will be standing here again. But I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence. Thank you.”

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