Founded in 1919, the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are Britain’s oldest literary awards. For more than ninety years, two prizes have been awarded annually by the University for the best work of fiction and the best biography published in the previous year. They are the only awards of their kind to be presented by a university - judged by a combined committee of English Literature staff and postgraduate students - and have acquired an international reputation for recognising excellence in biography and fiction.
Recent winners of the fiction prize include Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, A.S. Byatt, Sebastian Barry, Cormac McCarthy, David Peace and Timothy Mo. Previous winners include Alan Hollinghurst, Rose Tremain, Andrew Miller, Caryl Phillips, Salman Rushdie, James Kelman, J.G. Ballard and Angela Carter. In its earlier years, the prize was also won by William Golding, Iris Murdoch, Joyce Cary, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and Graham Greene.
In 2012, as well as awarding the prizes as usual, the University of Edinburgh will be looking back across the first 90 years of the fiction award - across illustrious names such as those mentioned above - and making a special award. This will be for the ‘Best of the James Tait Black’ fiction winners.
Early stages of judging will involve all students and staff currently working in English Literature, with a long list to be drawn up in consultation with the English Literature Society. A shortlist will be announced at the James Tait Black Book Festival Prize Event in August 2012.
A panel of celebrity alumni will then choose a winner from the short list, with the result announced at a final celebration of English Literature’s 250 years in December 2012
This article was published on Feb 27, 2012