The James Tait Black Prizes
The James Tait Black Prizes logo

Book prizes

The James Tait Black Prizes for Fiction and Biography are awarded annually for the best works in each genre published in the previous year.

The two awards, each of £10,000, are the only prizes of their kind to be presented by a university and they have acquired an international reputation for recognising excellence in biography and fiction.

The prizes are Britain's oldest literary awards. Founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, the prizes commemorate her husband's love of good books.

This short video describes the history and unique status of the James Tait Black Prizes.

Judges and panel

The James Tait Black Prizes for Fiction and Biography are the only major British book awards judged by scholars and students.

The prizes are traditionally judged by senior staff from within English Literature at the University, assisted by a reading panel of postgraduate students.

The shortlist and eventual winners are selected by Professor Randall Stevenson and Dr Alex Lawrie (Fiction) and Dr Jonathan Wild and Dr Simon Cooke (Biography), together with the postgraduates.

Prize winners

Winners of the fiction prize are a who's who of the writing world and include Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan and literary giants such as D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and Graham Greene.

Biography prize winners have recently included Janet Brown's account of Charles Darwin and Sue Prideaux's history of Edvard Munch.

Their works join those of Lytton Strachey, John Buchan and Lady Antonia Fraser as leading examples of the genre.

I am excited and delighted to win the James Tait Black Prize. It is a very distinguished and long-established award and I am happy to be amongst its list of winners.

AS ByattWinner, Fiction Prize

Awards ceremony

The winners are announced the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which takes place during the August festivals in Edinburgh.

Attend the awards ceremony

Our partner

Edinburgh International Book Festival logo

The James Tait Black Prizes for Fiction and Biography are presented in association with the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Related links

School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Postgraduate study: English Literature