Lochhead, who works as a poet, author, translator, playwright, performer and broadcaster, has written plays including Blood and Ice, Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, Britannia Rules, Quelques Fleurs, Perfect Days and acclaimed adaptations of Moliere's Tartuffe and Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Shortlisted by representatives from Scotland's literary community for a five-year term, the appointment was today confirmed by First Minister Alex Salmond and former first ministers Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish at a ceremony in Edinburgh. Lochhead will be paid a £10,000 annual stipend for the job by Scotland's amalgamated arts funding agency, Creative Scotland.
A fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Lochhead holds honorary doctorates from ten Scottish universities. She was writer in residence at Edinburgh University from 1986 to 1987 and held the same post with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988.
Lochhead's latest play Educating Agnes premiered in 2008 at Glasgow's Citizens Theatre, produced by Theatre Babel. Her comedy Perfect Days opened in the West End in June 1999 starring Siobhan Redmond and directed by John Tiffany. The play was the hit of the 1998 Edinburgh Fringe having premiered at the Traverse Theatre as one of the theatre's first major festival productions.
Chief executive of Creative Scotland Andrew Dixon, today said the appointment "sends out an important message about the role which artists play in celebrating the culture of Scotland. She commands enormous respect from the literary community and is held in huge affection by the Scottish public."