Thursday, 31 December 2009

Man Booker Prize bibliography - 1974


In 1974 the judges were unable to separate two books, and the prize was shared:

The Conservationist, Nadine Gordimer, Jonathan Cape, London 2004. Fairly common. £30 up to £200 for a fine signed copy.

Nadine Gordimer (born 1923) is a Nobel Prize-winning author of short stories and novels reflecting the disintegration of South African society. While her early works were in the tradition of liberal South African whites opposed to apartheid, her later works reflect a move toward more radical political and literary formulations. She was born on November 20, 1923, in Springs, a mining town on the Eastern Witwatersrand, South Africa. Of Jewish heritage, her mother was from England and her father, from Russia. He worked in the gold mines, first as a mining engineer and later as secretary. Most of Gordimer's life, apart from a brief period in Zambia in the middle 1960s, has been spent in South Africa and the Witwatersrand, and it was here that she received her education, first as a day scholar at a convent and later as a student at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her first short story, entitled "Come Again Tomorrow," was published in the Johannesburg magazine The Forum in November 1939. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991.

"Mehring is rich. He has all the privileges and possessions that South Africa has to offer, but his possessions refuse to remain objects. His wife, son, and mistress leave him; his foreman and workers become increasingly indifferent to his stewardship; even the land rises up, as drought, then flood, destroy his farm."

Holiday, Stanley Middleton, Hutchinson, London, 1974. Perhaps the rarest of the Booker Prize winners. From a dealer, likely to be around £1000 or more.

Stanley Middleton (1 August 1919 – 25 July 2009) was a British novelist. He was born in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire and educated at High Pavement School, Stanley Road, Nottingham and University College Nottingham. Middleton began writing at university and in 1958 published A Short Answer. He taught English at High Pavement Grammar School for many years, and was a highly prolific author. Her Three Wise Men, his 44th novel, was published in 2008. Middleton was an accomplished organist, playing regularly at St Mark's Methodist Church, Ravensworth Road in Bulwell and stepping in to cover others, often at Mansfield Road Baptist Church in Nottingham. He was also a fine water colourist and contributed his own artwork to the 2006 re-publication of the first chapter of Holiday by Oak Tree Press (2008). In 2006, a reporter for The Sunday Times sent the first chapters of Holiday to a number of publishers and literary agents as a journalistic stunt. Almost all rejected it. Peter Bowles, the well known actor, was taught by Stanley Middleton when Bowles was a pupil at High Pavement. Many years later when Bowles was the subject of the popular TV programme, This Is Your Life, Stanley Middleton was a guest on the programme. Middleton was married to Margaret Welch from 1951 until his death; their two daughters, Penny and Sarah, both born in the 1950s, survive him. He had cancer, and died in a nursing home.

Edwin Fisher is on holiday at the English seaside - but this revisiting of childhood haunts is no ordinary holiday. Edwin is seeking to understand the failure of his marriage to Meg, but it turns out that her parents are staying at the same resort - whether by accident or design - and are keen to patch up the relationship. As the past and his enigmatic wife loom larger, deeper truths emerge and the perspective shifts in unexpected ways.


Ending Up, Kingsley Amis, Jonathan Cape, London, 1974. Easily available at around £15.

Sir Kingsley William Amis, CBE (16 April 1922 – 22 October 1995) was an English novelist, poet, critic and teacher. He wrote more than twenty novels, three collections of poetry, short stories, radio and television scripts, and books of social and literary criticism. According to his biographer, Zachary Leader, Amis was 'the finest British comic novelist of the second half of the twentieth century'. He was the father of the English novelist Martin Amis. As a young man at Oxford, Amis briefly joined the Communist Party. He later described this stage of his political life as "the callow Marxist phase that seemed almost compulsory in Oxford. He eventually moved further right, a development he discussed in the essay "Why Lucky Jim Turned Right" (1967. Amis was by his own admission and as revealed by his biographers a serial adulterer for much of his life. Not surprisingly, this was one of the main contributory factors in the breakdown of his first marriage. A famous photograph of a sleeping Amis on a Yugoslav beach shows the slogan (written by wife Hilly) on his back "1 Fat Englishman - I fuck anything".
In one of his memoirs, Amis wrote: "Now and then I become conscious of having the reputation of being one of the great drinkers, if not one of the great drunks, of our time". He suggests that this is due to a naive tendency on the part of his readers to apply the behaviour of his characters to himself. This was disingenuous; the fact was that he enjoyed drink, and spent a good deal of his time in pubs. Hilary Rubinstein, who commissioned Lucky Jim, commented: "I doubted whether Jim Dixon would have gone to the pub and drunk ten pints of beer ... I didn't know Kingsley very well, you see." Clive James comments: "All on his own, he had the weekly drinks bill of a whole table at the Garrick Club even before he was elected. After he was, he would get so tight there that he could barely make it to the taxi." Amis was, however, adamant in his belief that inspiration did not come from a bottle: "Whatever part drink may play in the writer's life, it must play none in his or her work." For 'many years',Amis imposed a rigorous daily schedule upon himself in which writing and drinking were strictly segregated. Mornings were devoted to writing with a minimum daily output of 500 words. The drinking would only begin around lunchtime when this output had been achieved. Amis's prodigious output would not have been possible without this kind of self discipline. Nevertheless, according to Clive James, Amis reached a turning point when his drinking ceased to be social, and became a way of dulling his remorse and regret at his behaviour toward Hilly.

"Beset by boredom and the decay of old age, the septuagenarian inhabitants of Tuppenny-hapenny Cottage find that malice is the best recipe for keeping their spirits alive. And when the grandchildren arrive to do their duty on Christmas Day, the festivities degenerate into an unforeseen riot."

The Bottle Factory Outing, Beryl Bainbridge, Duckworth, London, 1974. Easily available - look to pay around £15.

Beryl Bainbridge was born in Lancashire on 21 November 1934. Even as a small child she enjoyed writing, and by age 10 she frequently updated her diary. She had elocution lessons and by 11 she was appearing on the radio alongside Billie Whitelaw and Judith Chalmers. She was expelled from Merchant Taylors' Girls' School, Crosby at age 14 when she was caught with a rude note, written by someone else, in her pocket. That summer she fell in love with a former German POW who was waiting to be repatriated. For the next six years, the couple corresponded and tried to get permission for the German man to return to Britain so they could be married. The relationship ended in 1953. The following year she married artist Austin Davies. The two divorced soon after, leaving Bainbridge a single mother of two children. She later had a third child by Alan Sharp, a daughter who is the actress Rudi Davies. She spent her early years working as an actress and appeared in a 1961 episode of the soap opera Coronation Street playing an anti-nuclear protester. In 1958 she attempted suicide by putting her head in an oven. She was awarded a DBE in 2000. Baonbridge's first published novel, A Weekend with Claud, appeared in 1967 (revised edition 1981), and was followed by Another Part of the Wood (1968), and The Dressmaker (1973), which was adapted as a film in 1989. Her more recent novels, based on real lives and historical events, include The Birthday Boys (1991), the story of Captain Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition; Every Man For Himself (1996), set on board the Titanic; and Master Georgie (1998), chronicling a young surgeon's adventures during the Crimean War. Beryl Bainbridge lives in north London.

"Freda and Brenda spend their days working in an Italian-run wine-bottling factory, and their nights in a dismal one-room apartment. Little wonder then, that the works outing offers such promise for Freda-determined to capture the heart of Vittorio, and such terror for Brenda - constantly escaping the clutches of Rossi. But passions run high on that chilly day of freedom, and life after the outing can - tragically - never return to normal."

In Their Wisdom, C.P.Snow, Macmillan, London, 1974. Easily available at £10.

Charles Percy Snow, Baron Snow CBE (15 October 1905–1 July 1980) was an English physicist and novelist, who also served several important positions in the UK government. Born in Leicester, Snow was educated at the Leicestershire and Rutland College, now the University of Leicester, and the University of Cambridge, where he became a Fellow of Christ's College in 1930. He served several senior positions in the government of the United Kingdom. He was knighted in 1957 and made a life peer, as Baron Snow of the City of Leicester, in 1964. Snow married the novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson in 1950. He is best known as the author of a sequence of novels entitled Strangers and Brothers depicting intellectuals in academic and government settings in the modern era, and for "The Two Cultures", a 1959 lecture in which he laments the gulf between scientists and "literary intellectuals".

""In their Wisdom is a moving, tough-minded, and curiously heartening elegy of our times. The story opens as the economic and industrial storm clouds grow darker and a decade of foul political weather is forecast for the nation. Three elderly peers, old friends if not political allies, and each a distinguished citizen in his own right, look wryly from the plush sidelines of the House of Lords at the looming crisis. It could mean the end of a certain way of life for all their countrymen; and each has the bitter knowledge that his life and work may have contributed not to a golden harvest but to a grim reckoning. Against this sombre (and disturbingly topical) background C.P. Snow tells the story of an epic struggle, in and out of court, over a disputed will. In Their Wisdom may well be compared to Dickens' Bleak House in the way that it transforms the majestic processes of the law into an image of a whole society. The catalyst is a vengeful millionaire. His intervention, for purely personal reasons, in the affair causes the stakes to rise immediately and almost vertically. What might have been a mildly scandalous minor suit - or even no suit at all - escalates into a battle with consequences and implications reaching deeply into the political and establishment life of the country. The love affairs of two women are intricately involved. The three peers are among those drawn into the fray, and the patterns of many relationships are changed, at first subtly and later sharply (a notable exception is the close friendship between the two leading and opposing QCs). The great law case with its built-in tensions, its measured time scale, and its eventual resolution, displays the plotting of a master."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Took me time to read the whole article, the article is great but the comments bring more brainstorm ideas, thanks.

- Johnson