IT has been one of Britain's key literary prizes, with its home in Scotland, for 100 years.

Now the judging for one of the UK's longest running literary prizes has begun in the capital.

The annual judging round of the James Tait Black Prizes, which has honoured writers as acclaimed as Graham Green, DH Lawrence, Muriel Spark and Ian McEwan in its long history, has begin with the arrival of 500 eligible books at the University of Edinburgh.

The prizes have been presented by the University since 1919 and have a distinguished lineage: four winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature have been awarded a James Tait Black Prize earlier in their career.

Yesterday postgraduate students June Laurenson and Vivek Santayana launched the judging process and distributed books to 25 student readers who will assess each entry.

Each year, books are considered by staff in English Literature at the university, assisted by a reading panel of postgraduate students.

Last year, the fiction award was won by Eley Williams for Attrib. and other Stories, while the biography award was won by Craig Brown's Ma'am Darling.

Each category in the awards has a cash prize of £10,000: a shortlist of eight books – four in each category – will be announced in the spring of next year.

The winners – announced in August – will join an illustrious list of past writers honoured by the award.

DH Lawrence won in 1920 for The Lost Girl, and EM Forster for A Passage to India in 1924, Greene's The Heart of the Matter won in 1948 and Spark won in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate.

Winners in the 1970s included John Banville, William Golding and Iris Murdoch, while the 1980s saw prizes for James Kelman, Salman Rushdie, JM Coetzee, JG Ballard and George Mackay Brown.

More recent winners include Zadie Smith's White Teeth in 2000, Andrew O'Hagan for Personality in 2003, David Peace's GB84 in 2004, and Eimer McBride for The Lesser Bohemains in 2016.

Distinguished names appear on the list of biography winners.

Among them are Peter Ackroyd, Martin Amis, Quentin Bell, John Buchan, Richard Ellmann, Kathryn Hughes and Hermione Lee.

Dr Alex Lawrie, fiction judge for the prize, said: "We are very much looking forward to preparing the shortlist this year.

"This centenary year is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the rich history of the James Tait Black Prizes, and the wonderful contribution they make to honouring great literature."

Last year, he said of Ms Williams' book: "A remarkable set of short stories: experimental in the best way possible, articulating moments of intense intimacy with stunning freshness and clarity."

The awards were founded by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, of A&C Black, to commemorate her husband’s "love of good books."

Only the Hawthornden Prize, in the UK, has been running as long.

The first fiction winner was Hugh Walpole for The Secret City, a work about the Russian Revolution.

Henry Festing Jones won the inaugural biography prize for his book about the writer and artist Samuel Butler.

The lead student reader for the Biography prize, June Laurenson, said: “Our panel of readers come from a wide-range of specialist backgrounds.

"They have the critical, analytical, and creative skills to enable them to identify potential prize-winners.

"We are looking forward to spending the coming weeks sifting through the entries to find the books that balance academic merit with being and engaging reads."

Vivek Santayana, a student reader for the fiction prize, said: “As the new entries arrive, there is a sense of excitement and anticipation among the readers.

"We all look forward to discovering fresh stories and helping to contribute to the next chapter of the history of the prizes."

In 2013, the awards were extended to include a new category for drama, and in 2017 an online course was also launched.