Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have been named the joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize after the judges broke their rules by declaring a tie.
Atwood’s The Testaments, the Canadian writer’s follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale, was recognised alongside Londoner Evaristo’s novel Girl, Woman, Other.
The pair will split the literary award’s £50,000 prize money equally.
The Booker rules say the prize must not be divided, but the judges insisted they “couldn’t separate” the two works.
Atwood, 79, is the oldest ever Booker winner, while Evaristo is the first black woman to win.
The award’s rules were changed after the last tie in 1992, and organisers told this year’s judges they were not allowed to pick two winners.
But after five hours of deliberations, Peter Florence, the chair of the judges, said: “It was our decision to flout the rules.”
Bernardine Evaristo was born the fourth of eight children, in Woolwich, south east London, to an English mother and a Nigerian father. Her father was a welder and local Labour councillor; her mother was a schoolteacher.
She spent her teenage years at Greenwich Young People’s Theatre, which was where she first became involved in the arts..
She went on to study at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she earned her PhD in creative writing.
A career in theatre followed and she was a co-founder of the Theatre of Black Women company in 1982.
She also set up the Spread the Word writer development agency, the Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize. She was made an MBE in 2009 for services to literature.