When it began in 1969, the aim of the Booker Prize was to increase readership of quality fiction by celebrating and promoting the best books of the year. Orginally called the Man Booker Prize, the prize has become one of the most prestigious in the book world. Its legion of winning books are some of the industry's bestselling novels and are well on their way to becoming classics. The archives are peppered with familiar names like Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Michael Ondaatje and Kingsley Amis. Big hitters Peter Carey, Hilary Mantel and J.M. Coetzee have multiple Bookers to their names.
The annual £50,000 prize is granted to the best novel originally written in English and published in the UK in the year of the prize, regardless of the nationality of the author. Until 2013, only writers from Commonwealth countries were eligible to win the British prize. The winner is selected by a rotating panel of judges who pare a long list of about a dozen down to six, then one. It's not an easy task - three times, in 2019, 1992, and 1974, the judges declared a draw and selected two winners.
Author Graham Swift, winner of the 1996 Booker for Last Orders, said, "Prizes don't make writers and writers don't write to win prizes, but in the near-glut of literary awards now on offer, the Booker remains special. It's the one which, if we're completely honest, we most covet."
Explore the winning books since the prize's inaugural year in 1969. Autographed award-winners are aplenty on AbeBooks - all the way from P.H. Newby to George Saunders.