Daily Express - - RICHARD & JUDY -

house in Provence. Howard Ja­cob­son (2010) bought his wife a new hand­bag. Mar­lon James (2015) went for a suit by Ozwald Boateng. Ian McEwan (1998) promised to spend it on “some­thing per­fectly use­less rather than frit­ter it on bus fares and linoleum”. “Over-my-dead-body” mo­ment num­ber two. As writ­ten in a let­ter by Joanna Lum­ley, a judge in 1985, to the Booker’s ad­min­is­tra­tor. She hated the even­tual win­ner, Keri Hulme’s The Bone Peo­ple, and was an­noyed that her vote wouldn’t count as she PUNCH-UP: Fay Wel­don caused fists to fly couldn’t at­tend the fi­nal judg­ing. “I am as­ton­ished by the spite, in­ac­cu­racy and ill-feel­ing this wretched prize has at­tracted,” she wrote.

The same evening, Fay Wel­don made a speech at­tack­ing pub­lish­ers’ treat­ment of au­thors. “Later a lead­ing pub­lisher walked over to our ta­ble and punched my agent,” she says. Wel­don was then banned from at­tend­ing the Booker.

Yann Martell’s Life Of Pi is one of the best-sell­ing nov­els in the Booker’s his­tory, shift­ing 13 mil­lion copies since win­ning in 2002.

Martell’s small Ed­in­burgh-based pub­lisher Canon­gate’s turnover rose by 50 per cent the year af­ter the win, from £2mil­lion to £3mil­lion. The fol­low­ing year it was £6mil­lion.

A week af­ter Ge­orge Saun­ders won for Lin­coln In The Bardo Daily Ex­press Satur­day Oc­to­ber 13 2018 in 2017, sales shot up by 1,227 per cent. “Win­ning has an enor­mous im­pact on a writer’s life,” says Booker pub­li­cist Dotti Irv­ing. “They be­come an instant mil­lion­aire. They won’t get peace and quiet though.”

Win­ner Pene­lope Lively (1987) says: “It gob­bles up your time and it takes a cou­ple of years to step back from.” Eleanor Cat­ton (2013) ad­mits: “It took me a long time to start writ­ing again, maybe four years.”

Win­ning au­thors are au­to­mat­i­cally con­sid­ered for the next five years. A max­i­mum of 13 books are al­lowed on the longlist, and six on the short­list. This year’s judges read 150 books each.

Beryl Bain­bridge was short­listed five times with­out win­ning. Af­ter her death in 2010, Mas­ter Ge­orgie, set in the Crimean War, was given a spe­cially cre­ated Best of Beryl Booker. Former Booker di­rec­tor Ion Trewin said when she lost out: “She would say, ‘Oh well, have an­other puff of her cig­a­rette and a drink.’ ”

When Hi­lary Man­tel won in 2009 she “shot to my feet as if fired out of a cannon”. When she re­peated the win in 2012 she said: “You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize and then two come along at once.” Lit­er­ary critic Robert McCrum helped judge the Golden Man Booker this year, with Michael On­daatje’s work The English Pa­tient named as the best of 50 win­ners. McCrum says the prize oc­cu­pies a place in our af­fec­tions some­where be­tween the Grand Na­tional and the Ox­ford and Cam­bridge Boat Race.

Bar­neys, Books And Bust Ups: 50 Years Of The Booker Prize is on BBC Four at 9pm on Mon­day. The 2018 Booker Prize cer­e­mony is on Tues­day.

Pic­tures: ALAMY; GETTY; REX

CON­TRO­VERSY: (clock­wise from top left) An­thony Burgess in­sulted Wil­liam Gold­ing, Mal­colm Mug­geridge stood down over ‘porn’ and David Storey won on the toss of a coin

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