Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Literacy successes recognised in the New Year honours

The arts awards in the honours list have a distinctly literary feel, with the poet Geoffrey Hill given a knighthood, the Booker Prize winning author Penelope Lively made a dame and the writer Clive James awarded CBEs.

Hill, 79, who had an academic career, has been described greatest living poet in the English language, earning comparisons with Thomas Hardy and TS Eliot. He previously said: "Difficult poetry is the most democratic because you are doing your audience the honour of supposing they are intelligent human beings. So much of the popular poetry of today treats people as if they were fools."

The 79-year-old, born in Bromsgrove, Worcs, studied at Keble College, Oxford, before following an academic career with posts in Leeds and Cambridge before crossing the Atlantic to Boston University in the US. Last year he was voted to the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry.

Penelope Lively, a prolific writer of fiction, has the rare distinction of being as highly regarded for her books for children – such The Ghost of Thomas Kempe – as for her adult output.

Elsewhere in the honours list the authors Rachel Billington and Maggie Gee are made OBEs and the 88-year-old Welsh poet and playwright Dannie Abse becomes a CBE.

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