The Blagger's Guide To...Beryl Bainbridge

Corrie bit-part, and, at last, a Booker-winner at last

*The Man Booker Best of Beryl Prize was awarded on Tuesday, posthumously correcting the "always the bridesmaid" cliché that attached itself to Bainbridge after she was shortlisted for the Booker five times, but never won.

The award, for her 1998 novel, Master Georgie, was accepted by her daughter and her grandson, whom Bainbridge took as her guest to one Booker dinner and instructed to "get drunk". They were joined by many of Bainbridge's friends. The playwright Ronald Harwood said: "She always referred to my plays as 'The Thingummy'." Her publisher, Richard Beswick, recalled how, at a swish V&A function, she walked up to Gilbert Scott's red telephone box, "opened the door very smartly, and lit up". And her agent, Andrew Hewson, claimed that the pair used to make close examinations of the TV cables on Booker night, "to determine which table they snaked to. Unfortunately, they never snaked towards her."

*Bainbridge was born in Liverpool in 1934, and was writing by the time she was 10. Aged 16, she was expelled from Merchant Taylors' School after a dirty limerick was found in her pocket. She studied drama, and began acting at the Liverpool Playhouse.

*In 1961, she had a cameo appearance in Coronation Street as an anti-nuclear protester. Her debut novel, Weekend with Claude, was published in 1967.

*Bainbridge published 17 novels, including the five that were shortlisted for the Booker: The Dressmaker (1973); The Bottle Factory Outing (1974); An Awfully Big Adventure (1989); Every Man for Himself (1996) and Master Georgie (1998).

*Bainbridge was a gossip columnist's best friend. She was great friends with Bernice Rubens, who won the second Booker Prize in 1970. The pair were so devoted to Brookside that they would ring each other to catch up whenever either missed an episode. When she was asked at the Royal Academy in 2002 what she and the Queen had just been talking about, Bainbridge replied: "That was the Queen? I thought it was Vera Lynn!" She gave up smoking in 2004 after developing claudication: "I had to," she complained, "otherwise I would lose a leg." Sadly, it caused crippling writer's block, which was her excuse for taking it up again not much later.

*After she died last year, aged 75, a number of her paintings were discovered, depicting scenes from her novels and one or two of her former lovers dressed as Napoleon.

*At the Best of Beryl party in Soho on Tuesday, "what Beryl would have made of this" was obviously a subtext. "Well, she'd have been very pissed orf, you see," confided one of her friends to the IoS, "because there is no whisky. Beryl and I went to a party at Hatchards [bookshop] once, where we spied a bottle of whisky and sidled over to it. We were told, 'Oh no, you mustn't drink that – it's for Princess Margaret!' But we managed to sneak it away. Suddenly, a tall figure loomed over our shoulders and said, 'May I join you?' It was John Major!"

*The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, the novel that Bainbridge was working on when she died, will be published at the end of May by Little, Brown . It is set in America at the time of Robert Kennedy's death, when a girl wearing a polka dot dress was seen in photographs of the scene. Shortly before she died, Bainbridge told her children that she had only 35 pages left to write, as well as how it would end.

Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea


In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops


Arts and Entertainment
Full circle: Wu-Tang’s Method Man Getty

Music review

Arts and Entertainment
When he was king: Muhammad Ali training in 'I Am Ali'
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game