As well as awarding the annual prize and the biennial international prize, the Booker Prize Foundation also works to promote the art of literature for the public benefit through various schemes, initiatives and projects.
Founded in 2002 to take over responsibility for the award of the annual prize, the Foundation is a charity supporting a diverse range of activities which promote and foster literature, and has a special interest in encouraging reading of high quality contemporary fiction.
The Foundation works with libraries across Britain, and has done for for many years, promoting the prize, especially the shortlist, to library users. It provides materials for librarians to enthuse library reading groups, with over 35% of the UK's 4,612 libraries promoting the prize. In addition, the prize sponsors six library reading groups to shadow the judges, contribute to the debates around the longlist and shortlist on the Man Booker Prize website, and ultimately decide their own winner.
The Foundation is also active elsewhere in the education sector. Its university initiative encourages first year students at universities across the UK to appreciate and engage with the very best contemporary literary fiction. Regardless of their chosen field of study, students are given a winning or shortlisted Man Booker Prize novel to read and discuss followed by a visit from the author who takes part in a combination of workshops, lectures and reading groups.
The initiative was launched in 2009 when shortlisted authors Mohsin Hamid and Sebastian Barry spoke to first year students at St Andrews, Scotland and Georgetown University, Washington. Following the success of those events the initiative has expanded year on year, continuing to work with St Andrews as well as: Birkbeck University of London; Hull University; Imperial College, London; Mansfield College, Oxford; Liverpool University; Newcastle University; Stirling University and University of East Anglia. They have seen visits from: Linda Grant; Kazuo Ishiguro; Lloyd Jones; Andrea Levy; Hisham Matar; Simon Mawer; D B C Pierre and Sarah Waters. The scheme is jointly funded by the Booker Prize Foundation and the individual universities.
The Foundation believes that visual impairment should not be a barrier either to enjoying contemporary fiction of the highest standard or joining in the debates and discussions which surround each year's Man Booker Prize. So an annual donation by The Foundation enables the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to produce braille, giant print and Talking Books of each year's prize shortlist.
The Foundation works with the Royal Society of Literature to provide a series of masterclasses which offer a unique opportunity for both established writers and newcomers to writing to learn what it takes to become a successful writer and to have their work professionally critiqued.
Although each year's Man Booker Prize is all about the here and now, with the judges identifying what is for them the best novel of the year, the Foundation is well aware of the importance which is attached to the books and authors which have been recognised by the annual prize throughout all the years since it started (as the Booker Prize) in 1968. A partnership with the Life Stories sound archive at the British Library has seen the Foundation give financial support for the recording of interviews with authors who have been associated with the Booker/Man Booker Prize as part of the Library's 'Authors' Lives' project.
The Foundation's support is important to literary awards other than its own Man Booker Prizes. It has offered guidance in the setting up and ongoing development of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, now in its fifth year; given financial support to the internationally acclaimed Caine Prize for African Writing; and provided vital core funding to the less high profile, but nonetheless powerful, Asham Award for women's short story writing which is made every second year at the Charleston 'Small Wonder' Festival. It also makes donations to support events linked to the Man Booker Prizes at a number of literary festivals, in recent years notably at Cheltenham and Edinburgh.
Booker Prize Foundation:
Registered Charity Number 1090049
Company Limited by Guarantee in England and Wales
Company Number: 213467
Registered Office : 28 St James's Walk, London EC1R 0AP
A list of trustees (who are the company law directors) is available from the registered office.
Booker Prize Trading Limited:
Booker Prize Foundation is the sole shareholder of Booker Prize Trading Limited, a company limited by shares in England and Wales which pays all its profits to Booker Prize Foundation under the Gift Aid Scheme.
Company Number 04394720
Registered Office: 28 St. James's Walk, London EC1R 0AP.
A list of directors is available from the registered office.