The late, much-loved novelist, Beryl Bainbridge, was shortlisted five times for the Booker Prize, but never actually won. Despite many other literary accolades, she was famous for being the ‘Booker Bridesmaid.' In her honour, the Booker Prize Foundation created a special prize, The Man Booker Best of Beryl, and asked the public to consider which of her five shortlisted novels best deserved to win this special tribute prize.
No author has ever been shortlisted as many times for the prize. Her shortlisted books included The Dressmaker (1973); The Bottle Factory Outing (1974); An Awfully Big Adventure (1990); Every Man for Himself (1996) and Master Georgie (1998) all of which are now published in paperback by Abacus.
At the time, Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Man Booker Prizes, commented, "Dame Beryl was a very gracious non-winner and no Man Booker dinner was really complete without her. She was the eternal Booker Bridesmaid but, with this special prize created in her honour, we're delighted to be able to finally crown her a Booker Bride by letting the public choose the favourite of her books."
The public was invited to vote via an online poll for their favourite of Beryl's five shortlisted novels. The winning title, Master Georgie was announced on 19 April 2011.
Beryl Bainbridge was an author and actress. She wrote seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television. Her novel Master Georgie won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Every Man for Himself was awarded the Whitbread Novel of the Year Prize. She won the Guardian Fiction Prize with The Dressmaker and the Whitbread Prize with Injury Time. The Bottle Factory Outing, Sweet William and The Dressmaker have all been adapted for film, as was An Awfully Big Adventure, which starred Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. Her final novel, Girl in a Polka Dot Dress, was published by Little, Brown in June 2011. She died in July 2010.
Audio extracts are now available taken from the interview by Sarah O'Reilly in 2009 from the Author's Lives oral history project run by National Life Stories at the British Library (ref:C1276/19) (c) The British Library Board. Find out more about the project on the British Library website.