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The Best of Beryl Prize 2011

The Best of Beryl Prize 2011

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, 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.

The winning novel, as chosen by the public, was Master Georgie - originally shortlisted for the 1998 Man Booker Prize and described by the Sunday Telegraph as ‘Truly extraordinary, heartbreakingly good.’ The novel tells the story of George Hardy, a surgeon and photographer who leaves Victorian Liverpool to offer his services in the Crimea. He is followed by a small caravan of devoted followers, each driven onwards through the rising tide of death and disease by a shared and mysterious guilt.

All five novels were reissued by Abacus.

The Winner

Master Georgie

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.

The Shortlist