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Authors vie for 'lost' 1970 Booker Prize

Joe Orton, Melvyn Bragg and Iris Murdoch.  Photographs: Getty Images, BBC
Joe Orton, Melvyn Bragg and Iris Murdoch all feature on the longlist

Authors who had books published in 1970 have been given a second chance to win the Booker Prize.

The prize was originally awarded for any book published in the previous year, but in 1971 it became an award for the best novel published that year.

It meant a wealth of books by writers like Iris Murdoch, Melvyn Bragg and Joe Orton were never eligible.

Organisers have decided to redress the balance 40 years on with a special award, the Lost Man Booker Prize.

A longlist of titles which "fell through the net" that year has been drawn up and a panel of three judges - all of whom were born in or around 1970 - will select a shortlist of six novels.

Ion Trewin, literary director of the Man Booker Prizes, said: "Our longlist demonstrates that 1970 was a remarkable year for fiction written in English.

"Recognition for these novels and the eventual winner is long overdue."

Orton is longlisted for Head to Toe, Murdoch for A Fairly Honourable Defeat, and Lord Bragg for A Place In England.

Other writers on the list include JG Farrell, Ruth Rendell, David Lodge, Muriel Spark and Nina Bawden.

'Extraordinary novels'

The Lost Man Booker Prize is the brainchild of Peter Straus, honorary archivist to the Booker Prize Foundation.

He discovered that Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies, was not considered for the prize in 1971, and after an investigation the gap in awards was revealed.

Organisers later realised that the book was ineligible for the Lost Man Booker prize because it was published in 1970 in Canada, but 1971 in the UK.

Mr Straus said: "I am delighted that, even in a Darwinian way, this year, with so many extraordinary novels, can now be covered by the Man Booker Prize."

The judges are journalist and critic Rachel Cooke, ITN newsreader Katie Derham and the poet and novelist Tobias Hill.

The shortlist will be announced in March, and the public will decide the winner by voting via the Man Booker Prize website. The overall winner will be announced in May.

Lost Man Booker Prize longlist

Brian Aldiss, The Hand Reared Boy
HE Bates, A Little Of What You Fancy?
Nina Bawden, The Birds On The Trees
Melvyn Bragg, A Place In England
Christy Brown, Down All The Days
Len Deighton, Bomber
JG Farrell, Troubles
Elaine Feinstein, The Circle
Shirley Hazzard, The Bay Of Noon
Reginald Hill, A Clubbable Woman
Susan Hill, I'm The King Of The Castle
Francis King, A Domestic Animal
Margaret Laurence, The Fire Dwellers
David Lodge, Out Of The Shelter
Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat
Shiva Naipaul, Fireflies
Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander
Joe Orton, Head To Toe
Mary Renault, Fire From Heaven
Ruth Rendell, A Guilty Thing Surprised
Muriel Spark, The Driver's Seat
Patrick White, The Vivisector

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