Matisse biography wins the 2005 Whitbread

Whitbread winner

Hilary Spurling, author of Matisse, the Master, captured the 2005 Whitbread Book of the Year after a hotly contested discussion among the judges. Even more surprising is that it was a children's, The New Policeman by Kate Thompson, which nearly took the much-sought-after literary prize.

The Whitbread Book of the Year is selected from the five finalists in the following categories:

Fiction
Ali Smith for The Accidental

Poetry
Christopher Logue for Cold Calls: War Music Continued, his retelling of Homer's Iliad which is not yet available in the U.S.

Children
Kate Thompson for The New Policeman, not yet available in the U.S.

First novel
Tash Aw for The Harmony Silk Factory

Non-fiction
Hilary Spurling for Matisse, the Master

Spurling, who will receive the £25000 ($44,648.50) purse, spent 15 years researching and writing her magnificent biography which according to one of the judges, is "...one of the landmark biographies of the last few years which has already changed the history of art."

Last year, Whitbread announced it was seeking new sponsors for their Book Award. As of January 25, 2006, there were still no takers.