W.L. Webb served as the Guardian’s literary editor for some three decades from the late 1950s, bringing a stellar roster of reviewers to the books pages, including William Golding and Salman Rushdie.
Webb joined the Manchester Guardian in 1955 and left it (by now simply the Guardian) in 1991. Following Guardian tradition, he adopted the initials ‘W.L.’ rather than Bill and made sure his pages reflected his own left-wing politics and special interest in Eastern Europe. He apparently resented the editor’s pressure to include more illustrations and, when an overlong piece by a favoured writer came in, he would simply shrink the type size rather than cut it. Webb was one of the judges who awarded the 1993 ‘Booker of Bookers’ Prize to Salman Rushdie.
Webb was also a judge for the one-off Booker of Bookers prize.