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'It is an incentive, at 88, to keep going': Irish author Edna O'Brien made a DBE

The celebrated Irish author has been appointed a Dame of the British Empire.

The DBE is the second-highest honour awarded by Britain.
The DBE is the second-highest honour awarded by Britain.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

CELEBRATED IRISH AUTHOR Edna O’Brien has been appointed a Dame of the British Empire for her services to literature.

O’Brien, a prolific novelist, playwright, poet and short story writer from Co Clare, has won numerous awards for her writing, including the European Prize for Literature and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

O’Brien described the latest honour as “very gratifying.”

It unites me in some etheric way to readers I don’t know and is an incentive, at 88, to keep going.

Today, she was made Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – the second-highest rank in Britain’s honour system. The honour is awarded to those who have made contributions to the arts and scientists or contributed to charitable organisations.

Stephen Page, the CEO of O’Brien’s publisher, Faber & Faber, said that O’Brien’s “international reputation and readerships stand as a testament to her importance and originality.”

O’Brien, now 88, has lived in London since the 1950s. However, as an Irish citizen, her title will be an honorary one.

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Her debut novel, The Country Girls, was published in 1962, and won the Kingsley Amis Award. It tells the story of a young woman navigating a repressive Irish society after World War II. The book was banned by the Irish censor and a few burned at the request of a Limerick parish priest.

O’Brien has continued to court controversial topics, with her 1994 book House of Splendid Isolation focused on a terrorist who goes on the run and Down by the River, published in 1996, telling the story of an underage rape victim who sought an abortion in England.

Her memoir, County Girl, was published in 2012.

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