30 October 1975
In 1975 only two novels were deemed worthy enough by the judges to make the shortlist. Find out what those novels were in the shortlist press release.
The Booker Russian Novel Prize, awarded for the best work of fiction written in the Russian language, was launched in 1992. The prize was initially sponsored by Booker plc and administered locally by the British Council. Sponsorship of the prize was transferred in 1997 to United Distillers & Vintners (UDV), the spirits and wine arm of Diageo plc and owner of Smirnoff vodka, and the prize was renamed the Smirnoff Booker Prize in 1999. In 2002 the Open Russia Foundation, founded by the YUKOS Oil Company, became the sponsor and the prize was renamed the Booker-Open Russia Prize. In 2006, sponsorship of the prize was transferred to the oil company BP, and in 2011 was transferred again to the Russian Telecom Equipment Company.
Prior to 2001, the judges had tended to create unofficial longlists that they could whittle down to create the shortlist. These longlists (as well as submission lists) are embargoed for 20 years in the Archive. However, in 2001, the decision was made to make the longlist public, allowing more books to get recognition.
The Man Booker International Prize was initially awarded every two years in recognition of the work of an author of any nationality whose work is available in English. The first prize was awarded in 2005. There was also a separate prize for translation into English, the winner of which is chosen by the winning author.
The prize had celebrated its birthday a few times in the past (25th, 30th, 35th) but for its 40th, it went all out, with special promotional materials, a new trophy, and even a one-off prize - 'The Best of Booker' (won by Salman Rushdie, who also won the 25th anniversary 'Booker of Bookers' prize).
The Man Booker Best of Beryl, was a special one-off prize created in honour of Beryl Bainbridge who died in 2010. The shortlist consisted of her five novels that had previously been shortlised for the Booker Prize. Judged by the reading public, the prize was awarded to her novel 'Master Georgie' (shortlisted in 1998).
A few statistics: Over the past 49 years of the Booker Prize, 33% of winners and 38% of shortlisted authors have been women. 43% of judges have been women. Of the 17 female winners, 8 were from the UK, 2 from New Zealand, 2 from India, 1 from South Africa, 1 from Canada, 1 from Ireland, and 2 had dual UK nationality (Germany and Ireland). Interestingly, increasing the number of female judges is no guarantee of an increase in the number of female authors shortlisted: in 1977 there was only one female judge but 4 out of 6 shortlisted authors were women; and in 1986 4 out of 5 judges were women, but only one female author was shortlisted.