The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes
The James Tait Black Prizes are Britain's oldest literary award, first presented in 1919. There are two awards, given respectively to works of Fiction and Biography written in English and published in the previous calendar year. Each is worth £10,000 to the winner. The awards were set up by the widow of James Tait Black, one of the founders of the publisher, A & C Black.
The winner is selected by the Professor of English Literature at Edinburgh University, assisted by PhD students. The absence of critics or any other 'celebrity' judges, along with the prizes' considerable heritage, make them among the most respected awards in publishing. Authors may only win each award once; no author has yet managed to win in both categories.
The prizes' pedigree is confirmed by the many illustrious names who have won. The Fiction Prize has been given to, amongst others, E M Forster, Siegfried Sassoon, Aldous Huxley, D H Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, Iris Murdoch, Beryl Bainbridge, Angela Carter, John le Carré and Bruce Chatwin. Biographers honoured include Lytton Strachey, Antonia Fraser, Richard Ellman, Martin Amis, Victoria Glendinning, Gitta Sereny and Michael Holroyd.
Four victorious authors have gone on to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, William Golding, Nadine Gordimer, J M Coetzee and Doris Lessing (the only one of the four to receive the Biography Prize). Three winning books have also taken the Booker Prize, John Berger's G, 'Best of the Booker' winner Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie and Graham Swift's Last Orders, the latter two of which shared the prize with other books, something that has only happened four times in all and only in the Fiction category.
1942's Fiction winner was, uniqely, a translation; Monkey was Arthur Waley's abridged English version of Wu Cheng'en's 16-century classic Chinese novel, Journey to the West.
The 2012 winners were announced at the 2013 Edinburgh International Book Fair. The winning Fiction book, The Dead Man's Pedal by Alan Warner; judge Lee Spinks said: 'an exceptionally fine novel, richly evocative in detail, beautifully poised in execution, which in the story of one young man's journey to adulthood through the mysteries of childhood, sexuality, work, the realities of class society and the experience of divided family loyalties, offers a compelling poetic vision of a changing Scotland'. Biography judge Professor Jonathan Wild said the Biography winner, Tanya Harrod's The Last Sane Man, 'offers an exceptional portrait of a remarkable craftsman and his world. Harrod constructs this biography with the same eye for form and purpose that marked the work of her subject'.
The 2012 Fiction Shortlist
Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car, headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember the events that led her here...
Presented as a collection of found papers, appendices and notes, this book tells the story of John Sutherland of 'The Grey House', who is dying and creating in the last...
Veering between the comic and tragic, the self-contemptuous and the inspired, Leaving the Atocha Station is a dazzling introduction to one of the smartest, funniest and most audacious writers of...
For 16-year-old Simon Crimmons there is not a lot to do. Going nowhere, fed up with school, he leaves to work as a driver on the trains. That summer he...
The 2012 Biography Shortlist
This title tells the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech.
A revelatory biography of the American master as told through the lens of hisgreatest novel.
British studio potter Michael Cardew (1901-1983) was a man of paradox, a modernist who disliked modernity, a colonial servant who despised Empire, and an intellectual who worked with his hands...
William Harvey's theory of circulation was as controversial in its day as Copernicus' idea that the earth revolved around the sun. This title charts the rise of the yeoman's son...
Fiction Winners Since 1980:
2012 : The Dead Man's Pedal by Alan Warner
2011: You and I by Padgett Powell
2010: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
2009: The Children’s Book by A S Byatt
2008: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
2007: Our Horses in Egypt by Rosalind Belben
2006: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2005: Saturday by Ian McEwan
2004: GB84 by David Peace
2003: Personality by Andrew O’Hagan
2002: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
2001: Something Like a House by Sid Smith
2000: White Teeth by Zadie Smith
1999: Renegade or Halo 2 by Timothy Mo
1998: Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge
1997: Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller
1996: Last Orders by Graham Swift AND Justine by Alice Thompson (currently out of print)
1995: The Prestige by Christopher Priest
1994: The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst
1993: Crossing the River by Caryl Phillips
1992: Sacred Country by Rose Tremain
1991: Downriver by Iain Sinclair
1990: Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
1989: A Disaffection by James Kelman
1988: A Season in the West by Piers Paul Read (currently out of print)
1987: The Golden Bird: Two Orkney Stories by George Mackay Brown
1986: Persephone by Jenny Joseph (currently out of print)
1985: Winter Garden by Robert Edric (currently out of print)
1984: Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard AND Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
1983: Allegro Postillions by Jonathan Keates (currently out of print)
1982: On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
1981: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie AND The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
1980: Waiting for the Barbarians by J M Coetzee
Biography Winners Since 2000:
2012: The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew: Modern Pots, Colonialism, and Counterculture by Tanya Harrod
2011: The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination by Fiona MacCarthy
2010: Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China by Hilary Spurling
2009: William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies by John Carey
2008: A Strange Eventful History by Michael Holroyd
2007: God’s Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain by Rosemary Hill
2006: The Man Who Went into the West: The Life of R S Thomas by Byron Rogers
2005: Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream by Sue Prideaux
2004: John Clare: A Biography by Jonathan Bate
2003: Charles Darwin, Vol. 2: The Power of Place by Janet Browne
2002: The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future 1730-1810 by Jenny Uglow
2001: John Maynard Keynes, Vol.3: Fighting for Britain 1937-1946 by Robert Skidelsky (currently out of print)
2000: Experience by Martin Amis