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Tom Stoppard 'humbled' by PEN/Pinter Prize win

Stoppard speaks warmly of his playwriting contemporary as he receives the award established in Pinter's name

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Tom Stoppard (2008)
© Dan Wooller
Playwright Tom Stoppard has been awarded this year's PEN/Pinter Prize.

The award was established by charity English PEN in 2009 in the late Harold Pinter's honour.

It recognises a British writer of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Pinter's 2005 Nobel Literature Prize speech, casts an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze upon the world and shows a "fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies."

Stoppard was selected by this year's judges Christopher Bland, 2012 winner Carol Ann Duffy, Antonia Fraser, David Lan and President of English PEN and Chair of Judges, Gillian Slovo.

Slovo said of the selection: "The judges agreed unanimously that Tom's lifetime's work meets the challenging criteria set by Harold Pinter when he described those characteristics he most admired in a writer - characteristics which English PEN shares in its campaigning and charitable mission – those of courage and truthfulness, a determination to tell things as they are."

Stoppard was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937 and moved to England, via Singapore and India, with his family in 1946. His plays include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Real Inspector Hound, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Rock ‘n' Roll.

He received a knighthood in 1997 and in 2000 was awarded the Order of Merit.

"Harold was one of the reasons I wanted to write plays," he said of his latest honour. "His work dominated the foreground of my thoughts about theatre in the few years before I sat down to try to write a play in 1960.

"I had the sense not to attempt a 'Pinter play', but in other respects, as the years went by, he became and remained a model for the kind of fearless integrity which PEN exists to defend among writers, and most of us had occasion to feel humbled by his example."

The prize will be shared with an 'International Writer of Courage', selected by Stoppard in association with English PEN's Writers at Risk Committee, a writer who has been intimidated for speaking out about their beliefs.

The co-winner will be announced at the event at the British Library on 7 October where they will accept their prize alongside Stoppard.