Titles stack up for UK’s oldest book award

Hundreds of the best new literary works have arrived at the University as submissions draw to a close for this year’s James Tait Black Prizes - Britain’s oldest literary awards.

James Tait Black Prize co-ordinators Rosaleen Nolan and Mhairi Morrison - lead student readers who will be involved in the judging process were at 50 George Square to prepare the piles of books for judging.

Distinguished prizes

The James Tait Black Prizes are awarded annually by the University’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures - the oldest centre for the study of English literature in the world, established in 1762.

The James Tait Black Prizes are distinctive in the way that they are judged. Each year more than 400 novels are judged by senior staff from English Literature at the University, assisted by a reading panel of postgraduate students.

Celebrated literary figures

Two £10,000 prizes are awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh for books published during the previous year - one for the best work of fiction and the other for the best biography.

Eligible works of fiction and biographies for the Prizes are those written in English, and first published or co-published in the UK during the calendar year of the award.

The winners, announced in August will join the illustrious roll call of past winners that includes celebrated literary figures such as Angela Carter, Graham Greene, DH Lawrence, Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan, Muriel Spark and Evelyn Waugh.

Equally distinguished names appear on the list of biography winners. Among them are Peter Ackroyd, Martin Amis, Quentin Bell, John Buchan, Richard Ellmann, Kathryn Hughes and Hermione Lee.

Since the inception of the Prizes, entries have always been judged by people who are extensively trained to evaluate literature and who love doing so. As past winners have shown, postgraduate judges have the technical and creative skills integral to identifying early potential in authors who have gone on to have illustrious careers after being awarded the James Tait Black Prize.

Rosaleen NolanLead student reader for the biography category, and PhD Literature student

The James Tait Black's glowing back-catalogue is testament to both the integrity of the awards and its readers' discernment. As the new entries arrive there is a sense of excitement and anticipation amongst readers, as we look forward to discovering fresh stories, and helping to write these into the next chapter of the awards' history."

Mhairi Morrisonlead student reader for the fiction category, and PhD Literature student

The James Tait Black Awards were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband’s love of good books.

In 2013 the prize was extended to include a new category for drama.