The novelist and biographer Penelope Fitzgerald won the Booker Prize in 1979 with Offshore before executing a poacher-turned-gamekeeper u-turn and joining the 1991 judging panel.

Fitzgerald, who died in 2000, did not start her literary career until the age of 58 and won the Booker Prize with her third novel, Offshore, set among a houseboat community. She herself lived on a houseboat in Battersea that sank twice, the second time taking both itself and her belongings to the bottom of the Thames. Before turning to writing, Fitzgerald had known homelessness. She had also taught at various schools and could number both the future Duchess of Cornwall and the Booker Prize-shortlisted Edward St Aubyn among her former pupils.

Penelope Fitzgerald

Other nominated books

The Beginning of Spring
The Gate of Angels
The Bookshop