You are here

The Man Booker Best of Beryl Prize

The Man Booker Best of Beryl Prize

Booker Prize Foundation creates special prize

The late, much-loved novelist Dame Beryl Bainbridge was shortlisted five times for the Booker Prize, but never actually won. Despite many other literary accolades, the press's phrase - the ‘Booker bridesmaid' - stuck. In her honour, the Booker Prize Foundation has created a special prize, The Man Booker Best of Beryl, and asks the public to consider which of her five shortlisted novels deserves the accolade.

No author has ever been shortlisted as many times for the prize. Her shortlisted books were 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.

Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Man Booker Prizes, comments, "Dame Beryl was a very gracious non-winner and no Man Booker dinner was complete without her. She may have been the eternal Booker Bridesmaid but, with this special prize created in her honour, we are delighted to be able finally to crown her a Booker Bride by letting the public choose what they believe to be the best of her books."

The public are invited to vote via an online poll on the Man Booker website ( - which opens today, Tuesday 8 February at 07:00 (GMT) - for their favourite of Dame Beryl's five shortlisted novels. The winning title will be announced in mid April 2011.

Beryl's daughter, Jojo Davies comments, ‘Beryl did want to win the Booker very much despite her protests to the contrary. We are glad she is finally able to become the bride, no longer the bridesmaid.'

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 Bottle Factory Outing 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, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, will be published by Little, Brown in June. She died in July last year.

For further information about the prize please visit or follow the prize on Twitter at

For all press enquiries please contact:

Lucy Chavasse or Jane Acton at Colman Getty

Tel: 020 7631 2666 or

email: /

Beryl Bainbridge's five Booker shortlisted novels

The Dressmaker (1973)

‘A chilly story, written by a master hand.' The Times

Wartime Liverpool is a place of ration books and jobs in munitions factories. Rita, living with her two aunts Nellie and Margo, is emotionally naïve and withdrawn. When she meets Ira, a GI, at a neighbour's party she falls in love almost as much with the idea of life as a GI bride as the man himself. But Nellie and Margo are not so blind...

The Bottle Factory Outing (1974)

‘A superb novel. It is taut in construction, expansive in characterisation, vibrant in atmosphere and profoundly comic.' The Times

Freda and Breda spend their days working in an Italian-run wine-bottling factory. A work outing offers promise for Freda and terror from Brenda; passions run high on that chilly day of freedom, and life after the outing never returns to normal. The Bottle Factory Outing is an offbeat, haunting yet hilarious novel.

An Awfully Big Adventure (1990)

‘Vintage, bittersweet Bainbridge.' Mail on Sunday

It is 1950 and the Liverpool repertory theatre company is rehearsing its Christmas production of Peter Pan, a story of childhood innocence and loss. Stella has been taken on as assistant stage manager and quickly becomes obsessed with Meredith, the dissolute director. But it is only when the celebrated O'Hara arrives to take the lead that a different drama unfolds. In it, he and Stella are bound together in a past that either dates to interpret.

Every Man for Himself (1996)

‘Extraordinary ... both a psychologically convincing re-creation and a wholly new and highly individual work of art ... beautifully written.' Independent

For four fraught, mysterious days of her doomed maiden voyage in 1912, the Titanic sails towards New York, glittering with luxury, freighted with millionaires and hopefuls. In her labyrinthine passageways are played out the last, secret hours of a small group passengers, their fate sealed in prose of startling, sublime beauty, as this haunting masterpiece moves inexorably to its known and terrible end.

Master Georgie (1998)

‘Truly extraordinary, heartbreakingly good.' Sunday Telegraph

When Master Georgie - George Hardy, a surgeon and photographer - sets off from the cold squalor of Victorian Liverpool for the heat and glitter of the Bosphorus to offer his services in the Crimea, there straggles behind him a small caravan of devoted followers: Myrtle, his adoring adoptive sister; lapsed geologist Dr Potter; and a photographer's assistant and sometime fire-eater Pompey Jones, all of them driven onwards through a rising tide of death and disease by a shared and mysterious guilt.

Combining a breathtaking eye for beauty with a visceral understanding of morality, Bainbridge exposes her enigmatic hero as tenderly and unsparingly as she reveals the filth and misery of war, and creates a novel of luminous depth and extraordinary intensity.

Bookmaker's odds

Bookmakers William Hill has given the following odds:

Master Georgie 2/1

An Awfully Big Adventure 3/1

Every Man for Himself 3/1

The Dressmaker 4/1

The Bottle Factory Outing 5/1

Notes to Editors:

• The Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969, and Man was announced as the sponsor of the prize in April 2002, with a five year extension agreed in 2006. For a full history of the prize including previous winners, shortlisted authors and judges visit the website: It is a major media and information tool which is accessed worldwide with up to the minute information about both the annual Man Booker Prize and the biennial Man Booker International Prize. Featuring news, interviews and written pieces as well as a lively forum and full history archive of the prize, the site is used by journalists, bloggers and general members of the public on a daily basis.

• The Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all sides of the book world. Its members are: Ion Trewin, Chair (Literary Director, Man Booker Prizes); Richard Cable, publisher; Mark Chilton, Company Secretary, Booker Ltd; Jon Aisbitt, Chairman, Man, Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust; Maggie Fergusson, writer and Secretary of the Royal Society of Literature; Basil Comely, BBC TV; Derek Johns, literary agent; Peter Kemp, Chief Fiction Reviewer, The Sunday Times; Dominic Myers, Managing Director of Waterstone's; Nigel Newton, publisher; Fiammetta Rocco, literary editor, The Economist (Man Booker International Prize administrator); Eve Smith (Company Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation); and Robert Topping; Topping & Company Booksellers.

• The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) which, since 2002, has been responsible for the award of the prize. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are former Chairman of Booker plc, Jonathan Taylor CBE (Chair); Lord Baker of Dorking CH; playwright and President of the Royal Literary Fund, Sir Ronald Harwood CBE; former Chair of the British Council, Baroness Kennedy QC; broadcaster, James Naughtie; biographer, Victoria Glendinning; writer, Baroness Neuberger DBE and former Finance Director of Rentokil plc, Christopher Pearce. Martyn Goff CBE, former Man Booker Prize administrator, is President of the Foundation and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is a Vice President.

• The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man. Man is a world-leading alternative investment management business. With a broad range of funds for institutional and private investors globally, it is known for its performance, innovative product design and investor service. Following the acquisition of GLG Partners, Man manages about $67bn.

The original business was founded in 1783. Today, Man is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 100 Index with a market capitalisation of around £4 billion.

Man is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the FTSE4Good Index. Man also supports many awards, charities and initiatives around the world, including sponsorship of the Man Booker literary prizes.

Man supports many awards, charities and initiatives around the world, including sponsorship of the Man Booker literary prizes. In the year to March 2010 the Man Charitable Trust continued to fund innovative projects for children and adults that improve literacy. Donations were made to support the "Every Child a Reader" reading recovery programme, Dyslexia Action, The Mayor's Fund for London, National Literacy Trust and St Petrock's (Exeter). The Trust also supports the RNIB Talking Books Service, enabling the production and distribution of Talking Book formats of the shortlisted titles of the Man Booker Prize

Further information can be found at

• Booker is the UK's leading food wholesaler with over 170 branches nationwide. It serves over 350,000 independent businesses.

• The Booker Prize Archive was given on loan in 2003 to Oxford Brookes University where it now resides.