Roy Foster on the Hubert Butler Essay Prize
‘Hubert Butler's extraordinary oeuvre, after a lifetime's essay-writing, gained world-wide attention when Lilliput Press began publishing his work in volume form in the 1980s. His subjects spanned an arc from Ireland to eastern Europe and beyond, and his preoccupation with freedom of thought, the making and unmaking of nation states, and the threats presented by one kind of totalitarianism or another, have never been more relevant. This essay prize is founded to recognize Butler's achievement in intellectual history, and to encourage the kind of economical but substantial essay-writing which he perfected, on the sort of subjects which he persistently brought to attention. In the present state of the world, there could be no better way to commemorate a thinker whose uncompromising insights into follies and barbarities are more illuminating than ever.’
Professor Roy Foster chairs this year's judging panel, and is joined by Nicholas Grene and Eva Hoffmann
Roy Foster is Emeritus Professor of Irish History at Oxford and Professor of Irish History and Literature at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of many prizewinning books, including Modern Ireland 1600-1972, Paddy and Mr Punch, The Irish Story, Luck and the Irish, the two-volume authorised biography of W.B.Yeats, and most recently Vivid Faces: the revolutionary generation in Ireland 1890-1923. He is also a well-known cultural commentator and critic.
Nicholas Grene is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. His books include The Politics of Irish Drama (Cambridge University Press, 1999), Shakespeare’s Serial History Plays (Cambridge University Press, 2002), Yeats's Poetic Codes (Oxford University Press, 2008), Home on the Stage (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre, (co-edited with Chris Morash), (Oxford University Press, 2016), and The Theatre of Tom Murphy: Playwright Adventurer (Bloomsbury, 2017). He is currently working on a book about farming in modern Irish literature.
Eva Hoffman grew up in Cracow, Poland, before emigrating in her teens to Canada and then the United States. After receiving her Ph.D. in literature from Harvard University, she worked as senior editor and literary critic at The New York Times, and has taught at various British and American universities. Her books, which have been translated widely, include Lost in Translation, Exit Into History, After Such Knowledge and Time, as well as two novels, The Secret and Illuminations. She has written and presented programmes for BBC Radio and has lectured internationally on subjects of exile, historical memory, cross-cultural relations and other contemporary issues. Her awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, Whiting Award for Writing, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Prix Italia for Radio. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and holds an honorary doctorate from Warwick University. She is currently a Visiting Professor at UCL and lives in London.