Belfast Telegraph

Stoppard awarded PEN/Pinter prize

Oscar-winning playwright Tom Stoppard has been awarded a major literary prize for his "determination to tell things as they are".

The writer, whose work includes Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead and the adaptation of Parade's End for the BBC, will be presented with the PEN/Pinter Prize later this year.

The prize, set up in 2009 in memory of Nobel-laureate playwright Harold Pinter, is awarded annually to a writer who is judged to have fulfilled the aim described in Pinter's acceptance speech as having examined the world with an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze.

Gillian Slovo, who chaired the judging panel, said they were delighted to give the prize to Stoppard.

She said: "The judges agreed unanimously that Tom's lifetime's work meets the challenging criteria set by Harold Pinter when he described those characteristics he most admired in a writer - characteristics which English PEN shares in its campaigning and charitable mission - those of courage and truthfulness, a determination to tell things as they are.''

Stoppard, who began his working life as a journalist on the Western Daily Press, won an Oscar in 1998 for his script for Shakespeare In Love.

He said: ''Harold was one of the reasons I wanted to write plays. His work dominated the foreground of my thoughts about theatre in the few years before I sat down to try to write a play in 1960. I had the sense not to attempt a "Pinter play", but in other respects, as the years went by, he became and remained a model for the kind of fearless integrity which PEN exists to defend among writers, and most of us had occasion to feel humbled by his example.''

He will accept the award at a ceremony at the British Library on Monday October 7.

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