Maggie O'Farrell wins the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020

Irish-British novelist Maggie O'Farrell has won the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction for Hamnet, a fictionalised imagining of the death of William Shakespeare’s 11-year-old son.

A stunning portrait of bereavement and a richly-detailed glimpse into 16th century England, Hamnet is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves.

Martha Lane Fox, Chair of the judging panel, commented: ‘The euphoria of being in the same room for the final judging meeting was quickly eclipsed by the excitement we all feel about this exceptional winner. Hamnet, while set long ago, like all truly great novels expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring.’

In her review of the novel, Readings bookseller Tristen Brudy described O'Farrell as ‘a masterful writer who deals with her subjects deftly and with empathy’. Read the full review here.

O'Farrell was shortlisted alongside five other brilliant works: Dominicana by Angie Cruz, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, and Weather by Jenny Offill.

As the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, O'Farrell receives prize money of £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie’, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven. Both are anonymously endowed.

Find out more about O'Farrell’s win on the Women’s Prize website.

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Maggie O'Farrell

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