The prize aims to reward the best book of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. The winner receives £50,000 and is guaranteed, along with the shortlisted authors, a dramatically increased readership.
The prize was originally sponsored by a food distribution company called Booker-McConnell, and quickly became known as 'The Booker'. The name stuck, even after Booker-McConnell's sponsorship ended. The present sponsor is investment company Man - hence Man Booker Prize.
The prize celebrates its 44th anniversary this year. The first winner of the award was PH Newby in 1969 for Something to Answer For.
• First female winner
The first female novelist to win the Booker Prize was Bernice Rubens, winning the award just a year after its inception, for The Elected Member in 1970. She served as a Booker Prize judge in 1986.
• Shortest shortlist
Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Gossip from the Forest by Thomas Keneally were the only two books shortlisted in 1975 (the judges ignored Malcolm Bradbury's The History Man and David Lodge's Changing Places. Heat and Dust won.
• Double winners
Peter Carey, JM Coetzee and Hilary Mantel are the only novelists to have won the award twice. Carey for Oscar and Lucinda in 1988 and for the True History of the Kelly Gang in 2001. Coetzee for Life & Times of Michael K in 1983 and then again with Disgrace in 1999. And Mantel for Wolf Hall in 2009 and Bring up the Bodies this year.
• From Booker to screen
Booker Prize winning novels that have been adapted into films include Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark, which became the 1993 Steven Spielberg film Schindler’s List, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. Both Schindler’s List and The English Patient (below) went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
• Nobel in prospect
Three Booker prize winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize for literature: Nadine Gordimer in 1991, VS Naipaul in 2001 and JM Coetzee in 2003.
- Booker Prize 2012: a report from the Booker Prize dinner
17 Oct 2012
- Booker Prize winners since 1990
15 Oct 2012
- Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: extract one
07 May 2012