Oxford academic Valentine Cunningham is a professor of English language and
literature and a two-time Booker Prize judge, in 1992 and 1998.
Cunningham has written big books on Victorian literature (The Victorians: An Anthology of Poetry and Poetics is 1,000 pages plus), the writings of the 1930s (British Writers of the Thirties is 500 pages plus) and the Spanish Civil War. His core belief is that writing deserves to be taken seriously and that ‘Theory, quite evidently, distorts reading. Theory does violence to the meanings of texts.’ He describes the Booker Prize judging process as something that ‘begins in elation… and ends in a kind of demented frenzy’. He was awarded an OBE in 2017.