English author Julian Barnes won the Man Booker Prize last night for his novel "The Sense of an Ending".

He was presented with the £50,000 prize at a ceremony at London's Guildhall.

The 65-year-old writer had previously been shortlisted three times.

Mr Barnes thanked his publishers "for their wisdom and the sponsors for their cheque".

Speaking at a press conference after the ceremony, he refused to be drawn on the merits of this book compared to his three other shortlisted titles that failed to win.

He said his favourite work was "the one I'm about to write or the one I've just written".

Dame Stella Rimington, who chaired the judging panel, said the slim 150-page novel "spoke to the humankind in the 21st century".

The book is the story of a middle-aged man, Tony Webster, struggling to come to terms with his life as his past begins to unravel when he learns of the existence of a diary kept by an old school friend.