Maeve Binchy.

The Romantic Novelists’ Association honoured two of the world’s best-selling and much-loved authors, Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope, at their 50th Anniversary Awards Ceremony in London today. The two authors were given Lifetime Achievement Awards at the RNA’s Pure Passion Awards lunch, hosted by critic and TV personality Barry Norman.

Maeve Binchy was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the joy she has given to millions of readers around the world. Her first novel, Light A Penny Candle, was published in 1982 and her books have sold an estimated 45 million copies in 39 countries worldwide.

Maeve Binchy was presented with her award in Ireland and sent a message via video to the lunch, saying, ‘I’ve always admired the Association because it’s managed to make us believe that stories are important and that we can get lost in the lives of other people.’

The Lifetime Achievement Award is the second award Joanna Trollope has received from the RNA having, thirty years ago, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award for her novel Parson Harding’s Daughter (1980).

Joanna Trollope said: ‘I have such admiration and respect for the RNA, which must be one of the most professional and supportive of literary associations around, as all its aspiring writer members know, and of course, I was one of them, once…So my pleasure and gratitude are very heartfelt.’

RNA Chair Katie Fforde said,‘Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope are household names, national treasures and some of the best storytellers of the last 50 years. It was our pleasure and privilege to honour them with Lifetime Achievement Awards.’

The RNA’s main award, the Romantic Novel of the Year, was won by Lucy Dillon’s Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts, published by Hodder & Stoughton. The perfect story for our nation of dog lovers, the novel focuses on the romantic sequence of events that occurs when abandoned strays are matched with new owners, whose lives become interwoven.

The Love Story of the Year, for a shorter romance with a strong emphasis on the developing central relationship, was won by Nell Dixon’s Animal Instincts, published by Little Black Dress. This is the second time Nell Dixon has received an award from the RNA, having won this award, then called the Romance Prize, in 2007 for her novel Marrying Max.

In honour of the 50th Anniversary, several new awards were introduced this year: The Romantic Film of the Year, The Romantic Comedy Award and The People’s Choice Award. In keeping with the RNA’s desire to help emerging authors, The Harry Bowling Prize for New Writing was included in the RNA ceremony for the first time.

Katie Fforde said, ‘The new awards introduced to celebrate the RNA’s 50th year not only showcase this fantastic, best-selling and popular genre but also provide a wonderful excuse for readers to get to know new writers across the diversity of themes and plots that comprise the romantic fiction genre.’

The Romantic Comedy Award, which recognises the book where love and laughter go hand in hand, was won by Jane Costello’s The Nearly-Weds, published by Simon & Schuster. The judges said the book was ‘a witty, at times laugh-out-loud romance, full of great characters.’

The RNA Romantic Film of the Year, celebrating the finest adaptation from a romantic novel to a film released in the UK during 2009, was selected by the public via The winner was An Education, by Lynn Barber, published by Penguin. The film was scripted by Nick Hornby.

The People’s Choice Award, a new award recognising key new or developing authors in the romantic genre, was also selected by the public via  The winner was Missing You by Louise Douglas, published by Pan.

The Harry Bowling Prize for New Writing, sponsored by Headline, recognises writing promise and is given every two years to the best first chapter and synopsis submitted by an author who has not yet had an adult novel published. Runner up for the 2010 award was Sunrise by John Barfield, and the winner was Fear No Evil by Debbie Johnson, who the judges felt showed great comic potential.

The RNA’s 50th Anniversary is supported by an extensive, nationwide in-store promotion under the ‘2010 Pure Passion Awards’ banner, with shortlisted titles stickered with the official logo.  Posters and official consumer magazines featuring all the shortlisted titles and authors in each category are available from bookshops and libraries throughout the UK.


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