Thursday, January 28, 1999 Published at 14:02 GMT
Bennett's short story first
Alan Bennett: His is the first short story to be nominated
Alan Bennett has made literary history by writing the first short story to be nominated for one of Britain's top book awards.
His novella, The Clothes They Stood Up In, is shortlisted for the WH Smith Literary Award alongside works by Beryl Bainbridge and Julian Barnes, who were both unsuccessfully nominated for last year's Booker Prize.
"The point about the WH Smith award is there are no boundaries on genre and no ban on length," said the judging panel's chairman, John Carey.
The other books on the short list are: Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge; England, England by Julian Barnes; Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor; Armadillo by William Boyd; and The Unknown Matisse by Hilary Spurling.
Now in its 41st year, the WH Smith award is open to any non-fiction or fiction title written in English and published in the UK.
One notable absentee is Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters, which won this week's Whitbread Book Of The Year award. The late Poet Laureate won in 1998 with Tales Of Ovid, and is ineligible this year.
"It is magnificent, and in any other circumstances it would have been on the shortlist," said Carey.
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