Martyn Goff, who served as administrator of the Booker Prize Foundation for more than three decades and “helped shape the prize into the literary force it is today”, has died.
Goff died yesterday (25th March) aged 91 after a long period of ill health, said the Booker Prize Foundation.
He served as administrator of the prize from 1970 to 2006, gaining the nickname Mr Booker, and was succeeded by Ion Trewin.
Jonathan Taylor, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “Martyn was a wonderful advocate and administrator of the prize for so many years.
“His contribution was invaluable and under Martyn the prize grew in stature and reputation, not least because of his tireless championing of contemporary fiction of the highest quality.
“Although the eminence grise of the prize, he lacked neither colour (particularly with regard to his ties) nor a beguiling sense of mischief.
“He will be sadly missed by us all.”
Goff, who was born in 1923, served in the Royal Air Force from 1941 to 1946.
He was a bookseller from 1948 to 1970, and then became director of the National Book League from 1970 to 1988. Goff presided over the Wingate scholarships, was the author of 18 books, nine of which were fiction, and was a literary critic for the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard.
He was also involved in a number of arts, literature and theatre councils throughout his life, and had a programme on radio station LBC for five years.
Goff, who lived in London, was made an OBE in 1977 and a CBE in 2005.
In 2003 he received an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University, and he was also chairman of antiquarian booksellers Henry Sotherans.