A Brief History of The Man Booker Prize

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 March, 2006, 12:00am

1969 P.H. Newby's Something to Answer For wins the first Booker-McConnell Prize. Aiming to reward the best novel of the year by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland, it is dreamed up by Tom Maschler, a celebrated publisher at Jonathan Cape. Inspired by the French Prix Goncourt, Maschler approached the Booker Brothers food wholesalers, who also had a profitable 'authors' division' that published writers including Agatha Christie, Dennis Wheatley and Harold Pinter.

1970 Bernice Rubens is the first female winner, for The Elected Member.

1974 The first tie, between Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist and Stanley Middleton's Holiday. The only other dead-heat is in 1992, between Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient and Barry Unsworth's Sacred Hunger.

1981 Salman Rushdie (above) wins for Midnight's Children. In 1993, to mark the prize's 25th anniversary, the novel is selected as the 'Booker of Bookers'.

1982 Thomas Keneally wins with Schindler's Ark.

1989 John Banville is shortlisted for The Body of Evidence. The prize goes to Kazuo Ishiguro for The Remains of the Day.

1992 A Russian version of the prize, called the Booker-Open Russia Literary Prize, is created. The first winner is Mark Kharitonov's Lines of Fate. He wins US$12,500.

1999 J.M. Coetzee becomes the first author to win twice. Disgrace is this year's winner; the Life and Times of Michael K won in 1983. Peter Carey is the only other double winner: for 1998's Oscar and Lucinda and 2001's The True History of the Kelly Gang.

2002 Sponsorship is taken up by the Man Group (a leading investment company and one of the world's largest futures brokers). The first Man Booker is won by Yann Martel for The Life of Pi. Banville's Shroud makes the longlist.

2003 Margaret Atwood (below left) joins Iris Murdoch as a six-time nominee, after being nominated for Oryx and Crake. Atwood won in 2000 for The Blind Assassin; Murdoch in 1978 for The Sea, The Sea.

2005 Albanian writer Ismail Kadare wins the inaugural International Man Booker.

2005 John Banville wins the #50,000 first prize for The Sea. He is 7:1 outsider, and it requires the casting vote of chairman, John Sutherland. Such is the influence of the Booker that The Sea goes on to sell more than a quarter of a million copies in hard- back alone. Banville's back catalogue also shows a marked up-turn in sales.

2006 Critic and biographer Hermione Lee is chairman of judges in the 37th year of the prize.