Possession took on new meaning when AS Byatt announced that she would spend the prize money, won with Possession, on a swimming-pool for her house in the South of France.

Hilary Mantel was one of the judges who awarded Byatt the prize, little knowing that in 2009 they would be on the same shortlist together. Possession is a big, complex book about two modern historians trying to uncover the relationship between a pair of Victorian poets.

Metafiction sometimes has a dubious reputation but here Byatt used it with rare adroitness, although it proved rather too testing for the film adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart.

A.S. Byatt
Published by
Chatto & Windus
The winner of the 1990 Booker Prize. Two modern-day academics uncover a secret affair between famous fictional poets in A.S. Byatt’s gloriously exhilarating novel of wit and romance.

The Shortlist

Possession: A Romance
Prize winner
The Gate of Angels
Amongst Women
Lies of Silence

The 1990 judges