James Fenton awarded 2015 PEN Pinter Prize

  • Fenton is the third poet to receive the prestigious award
  • Acclaiming Fenton as ‘one of the finest poets of his generation’, judges highlighted ‘Blood and Lead’ as an example of his ‘unflinching’ gaze upon the world

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British poet, journalist and literary critic James Fenton has been awarded the 2015 PEN Pinter Prize. He will receive his award at a public event at the British Library on Tuesday 6 October 2015, where he will deliver an address.

James Fenton said:

I am greatly honoured and touched to be given this award. In particular, I am happy to be connected in this way with Harold Pinter, whose writings I have long admired.

James Fenton was chosen by this year’s judges Susannah Clapp, Sam Leith, Hisham Matar, Antonia Fraser and President of English PEN and Chair of Judges, Maureen Freely.

The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by English PEN, founding centre of the worldwide writers’ association and freedom of expression charity, in memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter. The prize is awarded annually to a British writer of outstanding literary merit, who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’.

Antonia Fraser, Harold Pinter’s widow, welcomed the award of the PEN Pinter Prize to James Fenton, commenting:

James Fenton is a writer who Harold Pinter much admired for all his work, but particularly for his ability to write brilliant political poetry. This is an art which was very important to Harold not only for the poetry but also as part of the essential process of speaking up fearlessly: which is the basis on which the PEN Pinter Prize is founded.  James Fenton is thus a worthy winner of the latest prize.

Maureen Freely, President of English PEN, added:

Throughout his long and distinguished career, James Fenton has spoken truth to power – forcefully, fearlessly, and beautifully.  In this age of privatised art, it is increasingly rare for writers to retain this degree of public commitment, and that is one reason why we so pleased to be awarding him this prize.   But the main reason, of course, is that James Fenton is one of the finest poets of his generation.

As well as delivering an address at the British Library event in October, James Fenton will announce his co-winner, the 2015 International Writer of Courage, selected from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN. The recipient will be an international writer who is active in defence of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety.

A limited edition booklet containing James Fenton’s address will be published by Faber & Faber and available to the audience at the event.

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