It was called The Booker Prize from 1969 to 2001. PH Newby was the first winner of the prize in 1969 with Something to Answer For.
From 2002 the prize became The Man Booker Prize when the Man Group plc came on board as sponsor, making Yann Martel the first winner of The Man Booker Prize with Life of Pi. The Man Group ended their sponsorship in 2019.
From 2019, the prize went back to being known as the Booker Prize, with Crankstart becoming the new sponsor, making all winners from then on the Booker Prize winners.
The Man Booker International Prize, which was established in 2005, became the International Booker Prize at that stage.
Since 1969, 33 men and 18 women have won the prize.
Four authors have won more than once: J.M. Coetzee was the first person to win twice, in 1983 and again in 1999, when he described the Booker as ‘the ultimate prize to win in the English speaking world’. Peter Carey won first in 1988 and then in 2001. Hilary Mantel won in 2009 and 2012 making her the first woman and the first British author to win the prize twice and the first person to win the prize for two novels in a trilogy. Margaret Atwood won first in 2000 and then in 2019.
The Booker Prize initially awarded £5,000 to its winners. The prize money doubled in 1978 to £10,000, and today the winner receives £50,000. Each of the shortlisted authors receives £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
The ‘Man Booker Dozen’ was introduced in 2007, limiting the number of books allowed on the longlist to 12 or 13 each year. There were 13 books on the longlist in 2007, 2011, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Previously the numbers were much higher: 19 in 2006; 17 in 2005; 22 in 2004 and 23 in 2003.
Eleanor Catton became the youngest winner in 2013, aged just 28. Previously, Ben Okri held this title, winning in 1991 at the age of 32; Aravind Adiga was 33 when he won in 2008. Salman Rushdie was 34 when he won in 1981. Kiran Desai had been the youngest woman to win the prize in 2006, aged 35. Daisy Johnson, nominated in 2018, is the youngest person ever to make the shortlist, aged 27.
There are two instances where two members of the same family have been recognised by the prize. Anita Desai has been shortlisted twice since 1980, but has never won. However, her daughter, Kiran, won the acclaimed literary prize in 2006. Martin Amis has been both shortlisted and longlisted, in 1991 and 2003 respectively, whilst his father Kingsley Amis won the Booker in 1986.
Over the years, winners have found different ways of spending their winnings. In 1990, AS Byatt famously announced she would use her money to buy a swimming pool for her house in Provence, whilst Ian McEwan commented in 1998 that he would probably spend the money on ‘something perfectly useless’, rather than fritter it away on things like ‘bus fares and linoleum’. When Howard Jacobson won in 2010, he promised to buy his wife a new handbag. In 2015, Marlon James said: ‘I can go to Gieves & Hawkes, finally get my Ozwald Boateng suit.’ When Anna Burns won in 2018, she said she would ‘clear my debts and live on what’s left.’
Hilary Mantel was also the first Man Booker author to enter the official UK Top 50 at the number one spot, with the paperback edition of Bring Up the Bodies.
2013 was the first time since the longlist started being released (in 2001) that women outnumbered men on the list. In 2013, bookies William Hill offered odds on whether the winner would be male or female for the first time ever.
As of 2018, a new rule was added specifying that any novel written originally in English and published in Ireland by an imprint formally established in Ireland was eligible for the prize, alongside books published in the UK.
2018 also saw the first graphic novel on the longlist, and the first crime novel. Robin Robertson also made the shortlist with the first novel in verse to be nominated for the prize.
Bernardine Evaristo became the first black woman, and first black British author, to win the prize in 2019.
Known as ‘The Booker Bounce’ longlisted, shortlisted and winning novels see a dramatic increase in sales. The week following the announcement of the 2018 Man Booker Prize, Milkman sales saw a week on week increase of 880% (963>9446) then a further 99% (9,446>18,786) the following week. For Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo, in the week after their joint win in 2019, sales of The Testaments rose from 11,955 to 13,400 copies while Girl, Woman, Other sold 5,980 copies, more than double its lifetime sales up to that point and a 1,340% increase week on week.
In the first full week after the 2020 announcement, winner Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart sold more than 25,000 copies in the UK, a 1900% increase on the week preceding the announcement. Shuggie Bain has been to Number 1 in The Times and the LA Times bestseller lists, Number 2 in The Sunday Times bestseller list, and Number 3 in The New York Times bestseller list. It was chosen as the ‘Book of the Year’ by The Times and the Daily Telegraph and won both ‘Debut of the Year’ and ‘Book of the Year’ at the 2021 British Book Awards. It is now published or forthcoming in 40 territories and has already sold over three-quarters of a million copies in its Picador editions. TV and film rights have been sold to Scott Rudin/A24 for a planned TV series.