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Birkbeck professor of English and creative writing wins prestigious international award

Marina Warner has been named as this year's recipient of the The Holberg Prize.

Professor Marina Warner, photo credit: Dan Welldon

Distinguished author and Birkbeck, University of London professor Marina Warner has today been awarded one of the world’s most prestigious scholarly prizes, The Holberg Prize, beating over 70 nominees from universities across the globe.

The award –  worth approximately £380,000 – is presented annually to scholars who have made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology. The Prize, established by the Norwegian parliament, was announced at a ceremony in Bergen by Sigmund Grønmo from the Holberg Prize Board.

Professor Warner, who lectures on literature and teaches creative writing in the Department of English and Humanities in Birkbeck’s School of Arts, receives this year’s honour for her work on the analysis of stories and myths and how they reflect their time and place. She is known for the emphasis of gender roles and feminism in her literary work.

In learning of the honour, Professor Warner said: “I have tried to explore long-lasting but often disregarded forms of expression such as popular stories and vernacular imagery in order to understand the interactions of culture and ethics.

“The prize gives me and my fellow researchers wonderful, surprising encouragement in this endeavor, which lies at the heart of arts and humanities scholarship.”

Professor Hilary Fraser, Dean of Birkbeck’s School of Arts, said: “We are delighted that Marina’s brilliantly imaginative interdisciplinary work has been recognised by this prestigious award. She is a distinguished scholar and writer and a courageous public intellectual, and we feel enormously privileged to have her as our colleague at Birkbeck.”

With more than a dozen books to her name, including her most recent work Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale, Professor Warner is a well-known and respected figure in the literary world. She is currently chairing the judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2015, and is working on a novel inspired by her father’s bookshop in Egypt in the Fifties.

A Londoner by birth, Professor Warner says she is exploring the possibility of spending the prize money on cultural preservation amongst refugees and migrants.

The Holberg Prize is named after writer, essayist, philosopher, historian and playwright Ludvig Holberg. Born in Bergen in 1684, he played an important part in bringing the Enlightenment to the Nordic countries.

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