Jk Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of novels, has been honoured with an outstanding achievement prize at the South Bank Show awards.

Rowling joins the illustrious company of the award's previous recipients, including Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Dame Helen Mirren, Lord Richard Attenborough and rock legends The Who, who claimed the outstanding achievement trophy at last year's ceremony.

Accepting her award at the culture show's annual ceremony, the 42-year-old author explained that the trauma of completing the final book in Harry Potter saga had been more painful than ending a real-life relationship.

"It has been the worst break-up of my life - far worse than splitting up with any man," she said.

"But it has also been wonderful to stop and draw breath and think, 'My God, look what's happened with an idea I had 17 years ago on a train'."

Rowling completed the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, while resident at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh in January 2007, and signed a marble bust of Hermes with the legend: "JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (652) on 11 January 2007."

"I think it is the best book that I have written," she said while accepting her award last night. "It was my favourite story and I got to say all the things that really the books have been about all along, but I've never been able to be open about."

Also honoured at the ceremony were Arctic Monkeys, Shane Meadow's brutal film This Is England and BBC3 comedy Gavin and Stacey.

The South Bank Show awards winners were:

TV Drama: The Mark of Cain
Classical Music: Traced Overhead - The Musical World of Thomas Ades
Pop Music: Arctic Monkeys for Favourite Worst Nightmare
Visual Arts: Andy Goldsworthy at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Comedy: Gavin and Stacey
Dance: Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company
Film: This Is England
Literature: Mohsin Hamid for The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Opera: The Turn of The Screw
Theatre: Saint Joan
Arts Council award: Daljit Nagra for Look We Have Coming To Dover!
Breakthrough award: Jennifer Pike
Outstanding achievement: JK Rowling

30/01/2008 09:33:52