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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.

Winning Author

Beryl Bainbridge

Beryl Bainbridge was born in Lancashire in November 1934. She wrote her first novel, Harriet Said, during the 1950s, although it was not published until 1972.

She has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times; The Dressmaker (1973); The Bottle Factory Outing (1974), which won the Guardian Fiction Prize; An Awfully Big Adventure (1990) which was made into a film in 1995; Every Man For Himself (1996) which won the Whitbread Novel Award; and Master Georgie (1998) which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction).

Beryl Bainbridge was awarded a DBE in 2000, and later died in London in 2010. A one-off award, the Man Booker Best of Beryl, was created in her honour to celebrate her five shortlisted novels. 

Beryl Baindbridge

The Shortlist