A Bit of Literary Trivia

A bit of Literary Trivia…
During my research for Last of the Sugar Gods I came across a bt of literary trivia that made me almost off my chair.
Did you know that Jock Campbell, yes, that Jock Campbell who plays a major role in my book, is practically the founder of the famous Booker Prize? That the notorious Booker Brothers, the imperialist company that practically owned every corner of British Guiana, is the company from which the prize gets its name? Well, neither did I.

Here’s the story:

In the words of Sir Michael Caine, one time Chief Executive of Booker. The Booker, can trace its origin “through a quirk of history and the imaginativeness of one individual, to James Bond and the attainment of political freedom in Guyana.

The individual was a certain Scotsman called Jock Campbell who in 1945 became managing director of the Booker Company which then had most of its business in Guyana. He was also a humanitarian who deplored the wrongs and hurts of slavery. An astute businessman, he was able to transform the company from a typical colonial business into a thriving enterprise.

The birth of the Booker Prize came one day when Jock Campbell learnt that Ian Fleming, an old friend of his and golf partner, was given not more than a year to live. Fleming asked his friend Jock about the way he could secure his estate for his family by selling his interest in the James Bond novels. The two made a deal through the Booker Company and the result was the start of the Booker’s Authors Division. It soon added to Fleming other writers like Agatha Christie, Dennis Wheatley, Georgette Heyer, Robert Bolt and Harold Pinter.”

Out of that Authors Division the now famous Booker Prize was born. Jock had always loved the arts, and had been an avid reader. In Guyana he was known to help young writers, artists and musicians to develop. Through Bookers he awarded Arf Scholarships to England and Literary Bursaries. While writing I like to think that had I known Jock he would have helped me get started as a writer.

Certainly, reading about him made me aware that this was one of the 20th century’s greatest unsung heroes.

Ok, back to the regular programme!


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