The Booker Prize


The reward for winning the first Booker Prize, in 1968, was a trophy and a cheque for 5,000, and given to Newby for his novel Something To Answer For. Photos of the trophy are displayed below, along with a facsimile that was made for promotional puposes and given to a bookshop.

Booker Prize Trophy Booker Prize Trophy Booker Prize Trophy
Booker Prize Trophy Booker Prize Trophy Booker Prize Trophy

Frank Kermode recalls the decision to award Newby with the prize: "The first judges were Rebecca West, Stephen Spender, David Farrer and WL Webb, at that time literary editor of the Guardian. We were handsomely treated: in London we haunted Bertorelli's, but we spent more than one weekend at Michael Astor's beautiful Cotswold house, where Dame Rebecca strode the grounds authoritatively between bouts of laying down the law. There were perhaps 60 books, which seemed a lot, though modern judges are said to read twice as many. Getting through the 60 was made easier by our not daring to take on Dame Rebecca. "Miss Murdoch writes good and bad novels in alternate years," she said. "This is a bad year." Muriel Spark: "clever but too playful." And out they went.

Two of us favoured Nicholas Mosley's Impossible Object, but were soon silenced. The choice of PH Newby's Something to Answer For was the result of a compromise. Dame Rebecca didn't dislike it as much as nearly all the others. Surveyors of the prize's history have spoken ill of this good book, perhaps without reading it, or by being too ready to suppose that this industrious writer could manage a novel a year as well as running the Third Programme. Anyway, I remember this, my one experience of judging, with much pleasure and amusement." (Source: The Guardian, "Tears, tiffs and triumphs).