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Eminent author’s lifetime achievement honoured by University

Photo from left to right: Di Speirs, BBC Radio’s Editor of Books, Edna O'Brien, Dr Sarah Gilroy, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Alistair Burtenshaw, Charleston Director.

A WORLD-FAMOUS author has spoken of her delight after receiving a lifetime achievement award from the University of Chichester and Charleston.

Eminent Irish novelist and short-story writer Edna O’Brien was honoured at last month's International Small Wonder short story festival, which is held each year to celebrate fiction. The week-long event takes place at Charleston House, near Lewes in East Sussex, which was once home to notable painters and writers, including Virginia Woolf, and was collectively known as the Bloomsbury Group.

Ms O’Brien received the Charleston-Chichester Award for Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction for her long-standing and distinguished achievement as a writer of short stories.

The 83-year-old said: “This prize comes as a great surprise, as I’ve not had many in my life, so it is all the sweeter. Writing, for me, is both spiritual and fulfilling, and that is where I wish more people would start. Keeping the same love of language and descriptions I had when I first started is difficult, and does get harder over time. This prize for me is remarkable and I will go home with a little hum in my heart.”

As part of the ceremony, Ms O’Brien read extracts from her latest collection of short stories, before being presented with the co-sponsored award by Alistair Burtenshaw, Director of Charleston and Dr Sarah Gilroy, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University.

Dr Gilroy said: “Edna O'Brien is one of the great creative writers, and exponents of short fiction of our time. She is a courageous and challenging writer, whose work is inspirational, and I cannot think of a more deserving recipient. As a University we have a particular strength in English and Creative Writing programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and also run the online short story forum Thresholds for writers to share work and develop their craft.”

To find out more about the International Small Wonder short story festival visit www.charleston/smallwonder.org.uk. Alternatively for more about creative writing courses at the University go to www.chi.ac.uk/department-english-and-creative-writing.

Photo from left to right: Di Speirs, BBC Radio’s Editor of Books, Edna O'Brien, Dr Sarah Gilroy, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Alistair Burtenshaw, Charleston Director.