2017 Booker Prize Judge
Tom Phillips CBE RA was a collagist, collaborator and reader extraordinaire, who gave the word ‘artist’ a thousand new meanings.
A painter and printmaker whose classic work, A Humument – a collage made out of a Victorian novel – was published for the sixth and final time in 2016 after decades of ongoing work. His portraits of Iris Murdoch and Samuel Beckett are both in the collection of National Portrait Gallery. He illustrated Ulysses and received the Frances Williams Memorial Prize in 1983 for his illustration and new translation of Dante’s Inferno.
He was a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum, and chaired the Library and Exhibition Committee of the Royal Academy. Phillips was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the Arts in the 2002 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
He agreed to judge the Booker Prize in 2017 on condition that he could doodle in meetings. When asked about his reading tastes he said: ‘I’ve read all of Tolstoy and all of Lee Child’. In the end there were no doodles, but he did show his fellow judges how to cut the bigger books along the spine with a scalpel, so they could carry them on the tube more easily.
He was born on May 24 1937 and died November 28 2022.