Celebrated Irish novelist Professor Colm Tóibín is to be awarded the Bodley Medal as part of the 2023 FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival for his sustained contribution to the world of literature, and will give the 2023 Bodley Lecture.
The Bodley Medal is the Bodleian Libraries’ highest honour, awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the worlds of books and literature, libraries, media and communications, science, and philanthropy.
Tóibín is a multi-award-winning novelist and essayist, whose works have won the Folio Prize, Hawthornden Prize, the Costa Novel Award and the Stonewall Book Award. He has also been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times. His novels include The South, The Heather Blazing, The Testament of Mary, and Nora Webster. Brooklyn (2009) was made into a major motion picture starring Saoirse Ronan in 2015. His most recent, The Magician, won the 2022 Rathbone's Folio Prize and tells the story of the life of the Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Thomas Mann, his battle with his inner desires and his family, and of the tumultuous times that characterised life in Germany for much of the 20th century. His most recent work, A Guest at the Feast, was published by Viking in November 2022.
Tóibín’s works explore many themes including personal identity in the face of loss and grief, masculinity, fatherhood, and homosexuality. Drawing on his life growing up in Ireland, themes such as Catholicism and creation permeate many of his works. As an acclaimed writer, he is also a journalist, essayist, playwright and poet and has taught widely at some of the most prestigious universities around the world including Stanford University, The University of Texas, Princeton University, and University of Manchester. He is also the current Laureate of Irish Literature.
Speaking of his award, Tóibín said:
I feel honoured and thrilled to receive this medal. This is mainly because many of its recipients are writers I admire deeply, but also because of the Bodleian Libraries and their distinguished history. I write novels tentatively and, no matter how much I revise, am never sure if I get things right. Being recognized in this way helps to validate work done and encourage further efforts. And for that I am very grateful.
Colm Tóibín will give the 2023 Bodley Lecture in conversation with Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian and Head of Gardens, Libraries and Museums at Oxford University. Covering Tóibín’s life, inspiration and literature, the event is to be held in the Sheldonian Theatre and is one of the highlights of the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival programme. The medal will be presented at the end of the lecture.
Of the forthcoming presentation of the Bodley Medal and event, Richard Ovenden said:
Colm Tóibín is one of the most thought-provoking writers of our times. His novels range from the treatment of contemporary themes in a nuanced and considered way, to dealing with timeless cultural issues with great sensitivity. His essay writing is as powerful as his fiction, and marked by profound and revealing honesty. The Bodleian is honoured to present him with the Bodley Medal.
The medal presentation forms part of the following event:
Colm Tóibín in conversation with Richard Ovenden
Thursday 30 March 2023, 6pm – 7pm
Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford
Tickets should be booked in advance and are available at www.oxfordliteraryfestival.org.
Image credit: Colm Tóibín © Brigitte Lacombe