Six stunning story-tellers from King's

Girl Reading

King’s has had its fair share of literary prize winners, so we’ve put together a selection of King’s alumni and the award-winning works which have bought them literary recognition.  

Anita Brookner - (History, 1949)

Hotel Du Lac

Hotel du Lac -  Booker Prize, 1984

Anita Brookner (1928-2016), published her first novel in 1981 when she was 53. Her fourth novel Hotel du Lac won the Booker Prize (as it was then) in 1984. The book went on to further acclaim when it was adapted for television in 1986 by the BBC, and won three BAFTAs!

Her novel The Next Big Thing (2002) was longlisted for the Booker Prize and Strangers (2009) was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In all, Brookner wrote 25 novels, alongside her career as an art historian at the Courtauld Institute of Art. 

Brookner was Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge from 1967-1968, the first woman to hold this visiting professorship. She was also a Fellow of King’s.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke - (Mathematics and Physics, 1948)

Rendevouz with Rama

Rendezvous with Rama – Hugo Award for best science fiction novel 1974

Science fiction ‘great’ Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) worked with director Stanley Kubrik to create the 1968 award-winning film 2001: A Space Odyssey, based on his novel of the same name. ‘2001’ was Clarke’s first novel in the four-part ‘Space Odyssey’ series.

Clarke also shared his love of space and science in three ITV series of the 1980s and 1990s - Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers and Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe.

He established the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1986 to recognise the best UK-published science fiction novel each year. The prize value has risen each year since 2001 to match the numerals of the relevant year; 2016’s prize winner, Adrian Tchaikovsky, was awarded £2016.

Knighted in 1998, ‘Sir Arthur C. Clarke’, a collections of his manuscripts and memoirs, the ‘Clarkives’ will be published in 2038, 30 years after his death.

Susan Hill - (English, 1963

The Bird of the Night

The Bird of Night - Whitbread Book Awards, now Costa Book Awards, 1972

Susan Hill’s writing is inspired by gothic, ghost, mystery and crime themes. Her novel The Bird of Night won the Whitbread Book Award (now the Costa Book Award) in 1972.

She has over 50 novels and short stories to her name, many of which have also received critical acclaim and are literary award-winners, including I’m the King of the Castle (Somerset Maugham Prize 1971), The Albatross (John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 1972) , and an award for her children’s story Can It Be True?: A Christmas Story.

Her novel The Woman in Black was turned into a play in 1987, and has run for over 20 years in London’s West End. In 2012, a full-length film version was released, starring Daniel Radcliffe as the main character, Arthur Kipps.

 Hanif Kureishi(Philosophy,1977)

The Buddha of Suburbia

The Buddha of Suburbia - Whitbread Book Awards, 1990

Hanif Kureishi is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist. His novel, The Buddha of Suburbia, won the Whitbread First Novel Book Award in 1990. In 1993, it was adapted for television by the BBC, featuring a soundtrack largely written and performed by David Bowie.

Kureishi often draws on his experiences as someone of mixed British / Pakistani heritage growing up in suburban London. In My Beautiful Laundrette he wrote about racial discrimination, adapting the story into a 1986 screenplay starring Daniel Day Lewis. My Beautiful Laundrette gained both the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay.

Kureishi has adapted several of his works for film including Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987), London Kills Me (1991) and Le Week-End (2013). The Mother (2003) won a joint first prize in the Cannes Film Festival Director’s Fortnight section.

Kureshi’s diaries, notebooks and drafts were acquired by the British Library in 2014.

 Michael Morpurgo - (French and English, 1967)

The Wreck of Zanzibar

The Wreck of the Zanzibar - Whitbread Children's Book Award, 1995

Michael Morpurgo is best known for children’s novels such as War Horse, Private Peaceful and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips. He has 11 different literary awards to his name, four of which are in recognition of Private Peaceful. From 2003-2005 Morpurgo was Britain’s third Children’s Laureate.

Morpurgo’s novel War Horse was adapted for the stage in 2007 - with ‘horses’ represented by life-size puppets operated on stage by the cast. This production went on to be award-winning itself, winning Olivier Awards in the UK, and Tony and Outer Critics Circle Awards in the USA. Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg released a full-length film of War Horse in 2011.

In 1976 Morpurgo and his wife Clare established ‘Farms for City Children’, a charity which provides inner city children with countryside and farm experience on farms in Devon, Gloucestershire and Wales.

 Lawrence Norfolk - (English, 1986)

Lempriere's Dictionary

Lemprière's Dictionary - Somerset Maugham Award 1992

Lawrence Norfolk has been a teacher, journalist, freelance writer and reviewer. He was listed as one of Granta magazine's 20 'Best of Young British Writers' in 1992.

Lemprière's Dictionary is part-fact, part-fiction, exploring 18th century scholar John Lemprière's quest to trace the truth behind his father’s murder. Lemprière travels from Jersey to London and finds himself drawn into a web which reveal intrigues at the heart of the powerful East India Company.

Norfolk’s other works include The Pope's Rhinoceros (1996), In the Shape of a Boar (2000) and John Saturnall’s Feast (2012). John Saturnall is a young orphan in the 17th century who becomes a kitchen boy at a manor house. His super-sensitive nose can identify any ingredient. His semi-magical banquets help him rise through the ranks to become the greatest cook of his generation.

A novel can open up someone’s imagination and broaden their horizons. Some people even claim a specific novel has changed their life. At King’s we’re introducing the Man Booker Prize university scheme to do just that. The scheme provides each first year student with a Man Booker Prize-nominated title, encouraging them to explore contemporary fiction. If you’d like to help us to shape well-read and well-rounded minds for the future, find out more here.