Richard Benson wins the Portico Prize with THE VALLEY

We're really pleased to share that Richard Benson has won the prestigious Portico Prize in the non-fiction category for his book detailing life in the Dearne Valley and has been awarded £10,000.

Richard is the author of the number one bestseller The Farm, which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award in 2005 and a 2006 Richard and Judy Book Club choice. The Valley is published by Bloomsbury.

The close-knit villages of the Dearne Valley were home to four generations of the Hollingworth family. Spanning Richard Benson's great-grandmother Winnie's ninety-two years in the valley, and drawing on years of historical research, interviews and anecdotes, The Valley lets us into generations of carousing and banter as the family's attempts to build a better and fairer world for themselves meet sometimes with triumph, sometimes with bitter defeat.

Established by the Portico Library, Manchester in 1985, the Portico Prize for Literature is awarded biennially to the highest quality books set wholly or mainly in the North of England and is supported by the Arts Council England and The Zochonis Charitable Trust. The Portico Prize celebrates the strong regional and literary identity of the North of England with the aim of raising awareness of the diversity of its cultural, literary and historical heritage.

The Portico Library has a long association with northern writers, many of whom have been, or are members of the Library. The Portico Library is a key part of Manchester’s literary scene, and its hosting of a range of literary awards, known collectively as the Portico Prize Family, gives effect to the Portico’s wish to support and celebrate writing of outstanding quality and to honour the strong literary heritage of the North of England.

Fiction judge Professor Andrew Biswell said: "The Portico Prize is rightly regarded as one of our most valuable and prestigious literary awards. It's sometimes called 'the Booker Prize of the North,' but in fact the Portico recognises a much wider range of writing than the Man-Booker Prize for Fiction [...] The books have provoked a variety of emotions - as all great writing should - of which pleasure has been the strongest."

Follow Richard on twitter here - @_RichardBenson