I set myself this task a couple of years back: to read a prize-winning novel for every year since literary prizes have been awarded. Since then I’ve made very little progress, but several titles are now on the Classics Club list so I’m a lot more hopeful.
The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded in 1918. In the United Kingdom the earliest awards were the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Hawthornden Prize – both awarded from 1919. All three awards continue to be made annually to this day, and of course there are several more well-known awards that began subsequent to these pioneers.
I’m keen to see how these books and authors have withstood the passing years; whether there are discernible patterns in the choices of prize-winners that perhaps are reflected in the current affairs of their time; and of course, how these books land on me reading them now, in the present.
Although there are already a number I’ve read from more recent years, I’m starting from the beginning. Here’s what I have planned at the moment – up to 1930:
Titles in blue: currently reading
Titles in green: upcoming reads
Titles in sky blue: read and awaiting reviews
1918 His Family Ernest Poole Pulitzer
1919 The Secret City Hugh Walpole James Tait Black
1920 The Lost Girl D H Lawrence James Tait Black
1921 The Death of Society Romer Wilson James Tait Black
1922 Lady into Fox David Garnett James Tait Black
1923 Riceyman Steps Arnold Bennett James Tait Black
1924 A Passage to India E M Forster James Tait Black
1925 The Informer Liam O’Flaherty James Tait Black
1926 The Land Vita Sackville-West Hawthornden
1927 Tarka the Otter Henry Williamson Hawthornden
1928 Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man Siegfried Sassoon Tait Black & Hawthornden
1929 The Good Companions J B Priestley James Tait Black
1930 Miss Mole E H Young James Tait Black