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Authors honoured for literary achievements

By Heather Large | News | Published:

Two award-winning novelists have been honoured for their literary success by the University of Wolverhampton.

Howard Jacobson, the 2010 winner of the Man Booker Prize, received an Honorary Doctor of Arts while best-selling author Kit de Waal has been awarded an honorary degree.

Mr Jacobson, who is also a successful critic, columnist and broadcaster, was born in Manchester in 1942.

He studied English under FR Leavis at Downing College, Cambridge before going on to lecture in English literature at Sydney University.

After returning to England, he was a senior lecturer at Wolverhampton Polytechnic between 1974 and 1981.

Starting with Coming from Behind, in 1983, he has published 15 novels and six works of non-fiction of which the most recent, The Dog's Last Walk, a collection of his columns for The Independent, was published in paperback earlier this year.

In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question and was shortlisted in 2014 for J. He has twice won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing, first for The Mighty Walzer and then for Zoo Time.

While he has also written and presented many programmes for television, including Roots Schmoots, Seriously Funny: An Argument for Comedy, and Brilliant Creatures.

Speaking about his Doctor of Arts, Mr Jacobson, whose new novel, Live A Little, will be published next year, said: “I am both delighted and touched by this award. I co-wrote and published my first work of non-fiction while I was teaching at Wolverhampton and wrote my first novel here. So I feel I have come back to where it all started.”

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Mrs de Waal was born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father and was brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the 1960s and 70s.

Her debut novel, My Name is Leon, was an international bestseller and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for 2017.

The audiobook version of My Name is Leon is voiced by Dudley-born Sir Lenny Henry

Mother of two Mrs de Waal worked for 15 years in criminal and family law. She was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels.

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After securing her publishing contract with Penguin, she used some of her advance to set up the Kit de Waal Scholarship for a marginalised writer to do a Creative Writing Master’s Degree at Birkbeck University.

The inaugural scholarship was awarded to former Birmingham poet laureate Stephen Morrison-Burke.

Mrs de Waal said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this award. It means so much to have an honorary fellowship from the University of Wolverhampton, from my local area, from such a well-respected institution doing wonderful things for people like me. I left school just before my 16th birthday and this award would never have crossed my mind.”

Honorary awards are presented by the University of Wolverhampton to people who have made a significant contribution to their field of expertise.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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