Roy Foster on the Hubert Butler Essay Prize
‘Hubert Butler's extraordinary oeuvre, after a lifetime's essay-writing, gained world-wide attention when Lilliput Press began publishing his work in volume form in the 1980s. His subjects spanned an arc from Ireland to eastern Europe and beyond, and his preoccupation with freedom of thought, the making and unmaking of nation states, and the threats presented by one kind of totalitarianism or another, have never been more relevant. This new essay prize is founded to recognize Butler's achievement in intellectual history, and to encourage the kind of economical but substantial essay-writing which he perfected, on the sort of subjects which he persistently brought to attention. In the present state of the world, there could be no better way to commemorate a thinker whose uncompromising insights into follies and barbarities are more illuminating than ever.’
Professor Roy Foster chairs this year's judging panel, and is joined by Nicholas Grene and Isabella Thomas
Roy Foster is Emeritus Professor of Irish History at Oxford and Professor of Irish History and Literature at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of many prizewinning books, including Modern Ireland 1600-1972, Paddy and Mr Punch, The Irish Story, Luck and the Irish, the two-volume authorised biography of W.B.Yeats, and most recently Vivid Faces: the revolutionary generation in Ireland 1890-1923. He is also a well-known cultural commentator and critic.
Professor Nicholas Grene (B.A. Dublin) Ph.D. (Cambridge), F.T.C.D., M.R.I.A. Professor Emeritus has been Professor of English Literature in the School of English since 1999; he is a Senior Fellow of the College, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Life Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge.
He is the author of a number of books including Synge: a Critical Study of the Plays Shakespeare, Jonson, Molière: the Comic Contract, Bernard Shaw: a Critical View, Shakespeare's Tragic Imagination, The Politics of Irish Drama, Shakespeare's Serial History Plays, Yeats' Poetic Codes and R.K. Narayan.
An Andrew W. Mellon Fund Fellow at the Huntington Library in California in 1994, he was the founding Director of the Synge Summer School (1991-2000) and was the founding chair of the Irish Theatrical Diaspora research network.
Isabella Thomas is a writer, journalist and editor. She is the founder of the Aspen Initiative in the UK, and was formerly programme director of the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation and Axess Publishing in Stockholm. She has also worked with the Club of Three (now the Institute for Strategic Dialogue), bringing British, French and German citizens from different walks of life together to discuss common problems.