Costa Book Awards: Robert Maxwell biography among winners

The category winners of the Costa Book of the Year have been revealed and include an account of the rise and fall of media mogul Robert Maxwell - father of the disgraced Ghislaine Maxwell.

By Sue Wilkinson
Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 9:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 9:34 am
John Preston and his book Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell which is the running for Costa Book of the Year
John Preston and his book Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell which is the running for Costa Book of the Year

Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston won the Biography category of the prize which recognises the most enjoyable books across five categories; First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book.

Film company Working Title has optioned the screened rights to Fall, which tells how thetycoon, found dead after disappearing from his yacht in the Canary Islands, became the “embodiment of greed and corruption".

The book explores Maxwell’s abusive relationship with his children, including the youngest Ghislaine, convicted of sex trafficking charges in New York last week.

The books which have won the Costa categories and now go forward to the Book of the Year award which will be revealed next month

The judges praised an “epic, immersive, cinematic telling of an extraordinary life and our unanimous winner.”

Claire Fuller, a bestselling author whose writing career only started when she turned 40, took the Novel Award for her fourth book, Unsettled Ground, a story of resilience and hope that explores rural poverty in its portrait of twins living on the fringes of society.

British-Ghanaian short story writer and photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson won the First Novel Award for his “contemporary portrait of masculinity”, Open Water.

The love story between a black British photographer and dancer, it tells how “two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence”.

Poet and University Lecturer Hannah Lowe claimed the Poetry Award with her third collection, The Kids, a book of sonnets drawing on a decade of teaching in an inner-city London sixth form during the 2000s, as well as her own experiences as a teenager and a mother

Actor, playwright and charity founder Manjeet Mann took the Book Award for her second book, The Crossing, a verse novel about two teenagers from opposite worlds inspired by hope, grief, and the very real tragedies of the refugee crisis.

The overall winner of the Costa Book of the Year, now in its 50th year, will be named at a ceremony on February 1. The winning author receives a £30,000 cheque.


Costa First Novel Award – Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Novel Award – Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

Biography Award – Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston

Poetry Award – The Kids by Hannah Lowe

Children’s Book Award – The Crossing by Manjeet Mann

The Costa Book Awards is the only major UK book prize open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland.

The winner will be selected by a panel of judges chaired by Reeta Chakrabarti, journalist and broadcaster, BBC News.