The winner of the David Cohen Prize for Literature 2019 has been announced 1 year ago

The winner of the David Cohen Prize for Literature 2019 has been announced

The winner of the David Cohen Prize for Literature 2019 has been announced.

The recipient of the award was announced tonight [November 26] in the splendid surroundings of Royal Institute of British Architects, London.


The prize was awarded to Edna O'Brien DBE, a writer who has broken down social and sexual barriers for women in Ireland and beyond and moved mountains both politically and lyrically through her writing.

Recognised by many as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, Edna O’Brien is a bestselling novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer.

John Banville called her “simply, one of the finest writers of our time” and over the decades she has drawn admiration and celebration from fellow writers across the literary landscape, including J. M. Coetzee, Ann Patchett, John Berger, Anne Enright, Michael Ondaatje, Richard Ford and Ian McKellen.

Published in September 2019, her most recent novel, Girl, has drawn yet more plaudits.

Edna went on to award the Clarissa Luard Award to Clodagh Beresford Dunne. The Clarissa Luard Award was founded in 2005 by Arts Council England, in memory of a much-loved literature officer, Clarissa Luard.

The award is worth £10,000 and the winner of the David Cohen Prize for Literature nominates an emerging writer whose work they wish to support.

Clodagh is an Irish poet from Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. Her poems have been published and broadcast internationally. Her poem ‘Seven Sugar Cubes’ was voted Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at the 2017 Irish Book Awards.

Edna O’Brien was nominated and selected by a panel of judges under the chair Mark Lawson. They were: Imtiaz Dharker, Viv Groskop, Kate Maltby, Jon McGregor, David Park, Zoe Strimpel.

The awarding of the 2019 David Cohen Prize for Literature reinforces its unique and invaluable position as the only prize that is awarded for the body of work by a writer of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Established in 1992 and first awarded in 1993, the David Cohen Prize for Literature is one of the UK’s most distinguished literary prizes. It recognises writers who use the English language and are citizens of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, encompassing dramatists, as well as novelists, poets and essayists. Former winners include V S Naipaul, Harold Pinter, William Trevor, Doris Lessing, Seamus Heaney, Hilary Mantel, Tony Harrison, and, most recently in 2017, Tom Stoppard.

The biennial prize, of £40,000, is for a lifetime’s achievement and is donated by the John S Cohen Foundation. Established in 1965 by David Cohen and his family, the trust supports education, the arts, conservation and the environment.