Awarded biennially, the £40,000 prize honours a lifetime’s achievement in literature for a writer in the English language who is a citizen of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland.
Writer and broadcaster Mark Lawson is the new Chair of Judges, and will oversee the next five instalments of the prize. He replaces former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion who was chair for ten years until 2009.
The David Cohen Prize was established in 1992 by David and Veronica Cohen, and Arts Council England, and is recognised as one of Britain’s most distinguished literary honours. The Prize has in the past been awarded to novelists, dramatists, poets and essayists. The most recent recipient of the David Cohen Prize for Literature was Seamus Heaney in 2009. He joined a distinguished list of winners, including V S Naipaul, Harold Pinter, Muriel Spark, William Trevor, Doris Lessing, Beryl Bainbridge and Thom Gunn (jointly), Michael Holroyd, and Derek Mahon.
The winner of the David Cohen Prize is selected by a panel of judges comprising authors, literary critics and academics.
The winner of the 2011 prize will be announced at a ceremony in central London on 17 March 2011.
Mark Lawson, Chair of Judges:
‘Because the David Cohen Prize rewards sustained excellence over a long period, the candidates include the greatest living names in British and Irish literature: authors I studied at school and university, have read with pleasure over decades and regularly reviewed and interviewed as a cultural journalist. So, although it will be difficult for the judges to choose only one of them, it is also an honour to have the chance to do so. The David Cohen Prize feels to me like the closest we have in this country to a Nobel Prize for Literature.’
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