Edna O’Brien

Edna O’Brien was born in Co. Clare in 1930. Her novels, several of which were banned in the 1960s, include The Country Girls (1960), The Lonely Girl (1962), The Girl With the Green Eyes (1962), Girls in their Married Bliss (1963), August is a Wicked Month (1964), Casualties of Peace (1966), Night (1972), A Pagan Place (1970), Night (1972), The High Road (1988), Time and Tide (1992), House of Splendid Isolation (1994), Down by River (1996) and Wild Decembers (1999).

Recognised as one of ‘the greatest Irish writers of the twentieth century’ (Dwight Garner, New York Times) and “the most gifted woman now writing in English” (Philip Roth), Edna O’Brien is a bestselling novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer. In 2001, Edna received the Irish PEN Award, in 2006 she was awarded the Ulysses Medal by University College Dublin, and she won the 2018 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

On the 15th September 2015 Edna O’Brien was elected Saoi of Aosdána in a ceremony presided over by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, where she was presented with the symbol of the office of Saoi, the gold Torc.

Her latest novel, Girl, has been described as ‘a masterclass of precision and mercilessness’ (Alex Clark, The Guardian), ‘impeccably written and indelible’ (Catherine Taylor, FT), and ‘hypnotic, lyrical, and pulsating with dark energy… a masterful study of human evil’ (Christina Patterson, Sunday Times).


  • 1962: Kingsley Amis Award
  • 1970: Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year) for A Pagan Place*
  • 1990: Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Fiction) for Lantern Slides
  • 1991: Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy) for Girl with Green Eyes
  • 1993: Writers’ Guild Award (Best Fiction) for Time and Tide
  • 1995: European Prize for Literature (European Association for the Arts) for House of Splendid Isolation
  • 2001: Irish PEN Award
  • 2006: Ulysses Medal (University College Dublin)
  • 2009: Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award in Irish Literature
  • 2010: Shortlisted for Irish Book of the Decade (Irish Book Awards) for In the Forest
  • 2011: Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, Saints and Sinners
  • 2012: Irish Book Awards (Irish Non-Fiction Book), Country Girl
  • 2018: PEN/Nabokov Award For Achievement In International Literature
  • 2021: French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres


Photo Credit: Guardian News and Media Ltd 2015

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