The Booker Prize trophy has a name.
The foundation behind the British literary award, given annually to “the best sustained work of fiction written in English and published in the U.K. and Ireland,” announced that the trophy is now called the “Iris.”
The name honors Iris Murdoch, the novelist known for books including A Severed Head, Under the Net, and The Green Knight. Murdoch earned seven Booker Prize nominations during her career and won the award in 1978 for The Sea, the Sea.
In January, the Booker Prize Foundation launched a naming contest for the trophy, which was designed in 1969 by children’s author and illustrator Jan Pienkowski. The trophy wasn’t used for decades, but was brought back in a modified form in 2022.
The contest yielded a host of suggestions, which a panel winnowed down into six possibilities: Bernie, Beryl, Iris, Minerva, Janina, and Calliope. The public then voted on those.
But they didn’t choose Iris. “Bernie,” a tribute to Bernardine Evaristo, the first Black woman to win the award, and to Bernice Rubens, the first woman to win the award, got the most votes.
Evaristo, however, demurred.
“I’m surprised and flattered that the name Bernie was nominated by readers in the Booker Prizes’ trophy competition and that it received the most votes in the public poll,” said the author of Girl, Woman, Other, which shared the prize with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments in 2019. “But as the only living author on the list, I feel it would be more fitting for the honor to go to a writer who is no longer with us. It’s wonderful to see that it will be named after the great Iris Murdoch instead.”
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.