How Fay Weldon's 'anti-publisher speech' became one of the Booker Prize's bombshell moments
In 1983, the Chair of Booker Prize judges Fay Weldon delivered an attack on the publishing industry, instead of a speech celebrating the year’s best fiction
Fay Weldon was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1979, and as chair of judges in 1983 her speech was one of the biggest bombshell moments in the prize's history. Her views on how badly publishers treated their writers were found so aggravating by one publisher that he walked over and punched her agent, Giles Gordon.
Weldon’s writing career has encompassed not just novels such as The Life and Loves of a She-Devil but television scripts, including the first ever episode of the television period drama Upstairs, Downstairs. She also famously devised the slogan ‘Go to work on an egg’ when she worked for an advertising agency (her follow-up slogan ‘Vodka gets you drunk quicker’ did not, however, make it on to billboards).
Weldon’s fiction has gained both plaudits (Praxis was shortlisted for the 1979 Booker Prize) and criticism (she signed an £18,000 contract with the jewellers Bulgari to mention their pieces a minimum of 12 times in her novel The Bulgari Connection).