Holloway charity offers immortality as bidders win right to name character in books by Martina Cole and 16 other authors

Charity patron Julian Barnes as he is announced as the winner of the Man Booker prize in 2011

Charity patron Julian Barnes as he is announced as the winner of the Man Booker prize in 2011 - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Immortality will be on offer to the highest bidder at an auction held by a Holloway charity which helps the victims of torture.

Seventeen literary heavyweights – including previous Man Booker winners Julian Barnes, Alan Hollinghurst, Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan and Pat Barker – have teamed up with Freedom From Torture to offer a permanent place in the pages of their next book.

Successful bidders will have their name or that of a loved one given to a leading character in one of their favourite authors new books, while raising money for the charity in Isledon Road.

Freedom from Torture has helped more than 50,000 survivors of torture and organised violence, from about 100 different countries, since it was set up in 1985.

Julian Barnes, Man Booker Prize winner in 2011 for The Sense of an Ending and a long-time patron of the charity, said: “Freedom for Torture’s work has never been more valuable than it is now.

“The point of the Immortality Auction is to raise money while giving pleasure. We hope it will intrigue to name a character after yourself – or a friend – and see what happens when you turn that name over to a novelist or short-story writer.

“There is no guarantee of the named character resembling you, but a pretty good chance that he or she will turn out sympathetic. Unless, of course, you’d like it otherwise, in which case you are allowed to specify – though no promises can be made!”

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The auction has already begun online, and will culminate in a special real time auction event at Royal Institution of Great Britain, Westminster, on November 20, when an auctioneer will make the bids on behalf of those who have already submitted them.

The bidding starts at £300, and the price for a place in crime writer Martina Cole’s next book has already reached £3,500.

Tracy Chevalier, author of the international best-seller The Girl with the Pearl Earring, said: “I am holding open a place in my new novel for Mrs (ideally a Mrs) [your surname], a tough-talking landlady of a boarding house in 1850s Gold Rush-era San Francisco.

“The first thing she says to the hero is ‘No sick on my stairs. You vomit on my floors, you’re out.’ Is your name up to that?”

To enter the bidding or to buy tickets for the event, go to ibid-fft.com