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Judges

Hermione Lee was appointed Chair of Judges in 2020.  The David Cohen Prize will next be awarded in 2023, with a judging panel announced in late 2022.

Hermione Lee

Hermione Lee is a biographer, critic and Emeritus Professor of Literature at the University of Oxford. She has taught at the universities of Liverpool and York, and from 1998 to 2008 she was the Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature at Oxford. From 2008 to 2017 she was the President of Wolfson College, Oxford, and founder and director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College. Her work includes biographies of Virginia Woolf (1996), Edith Wharton (2006) and Penelope Fitzgerald (2013, winner of the 2014 James Tait Black Prize for Biography and one of the New York Times best 10 books of 2014). She has also written books on Elizabeth Bowen, Philip Roth and Willa Cather. She has published a number of books about life-writing: Body Parts: Essays on Life-Writing in 2005, a “Very Short Introduction” to Biography in 2009, and, in 2020, a co-edited collection, Lives of Houses. Her biography of Tom Stoppard will be published in October 2020. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013 she was made a Dame for services to literary scholarship.

She has judged a number of literary prizes, including the Booker (twice), the Hawthornden Prize (for twelve years), the W.H. Smith Award, the Guardian First Book Prize, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. She was a judge for the David Cohen Prize in 1999 when it was awarded to William Trevor.

Image credit John Cairns

Past Judges

2021

Hermione Lee
Chair

Susheila Nasta

Peter Kemp

Maura Dooley

Reeta Chakrabarti

2019

Mark Lawson
Chair

Kate Maltby

Jon McGregor

David Park

Imtiaz Dharker

Viv Groskop

Dr Zoe Strimpel

2017

Mark Lawson
Chair

Kate Bassett

Gillian Clarke

Simon J. James

Alan Johnson

Denise Mina

Anita Sethi

2015

Mark Lawson
Chair

Gillian Bee

Adam Begley

Melissa Benn

Susannah Clapp

Blake Morrison

Leo Robson

Kamila Shamsie

Michael Symmons-Roberts

2013

Mark Lawson
Chair

Shirley Chew

Sarah Hall

Kathleen Jamie

Sam Leith

Fiona MacCarthy

Daljit Nagra

Kate Summerscale

Roy Williams

2011

Mark Lawson
Chair

Ellah Allfrey

Simon Armitage

Michael Billington

Sarah Churchwell

Tobias Hill

Kathryn Hughes

Karl Miller

Michael Prodger

2009

Andrew Motion
Chair

Rachel Bowlby

Robert Crawford

Lavinia Greenlaw

Maya Jaggi

Alberto Manguel

Jack Mapanje

Rose Tremain

John Walsh

2007

Andrew Motion
Chair

Liz Calder

Anne Enright

Jackie Kay

Hilary Mantel

Chris Smith

Peter Stothard

Boyd Tonkin

Jeremy Treglown

2005

Andrew Motion
Chair

Antony Beevor

Caroline Gascoigne

Maggie Gee

Martyn Goff

Jennifer Johnston

Doris Lessing

2003

Andrew Motion
Chair

Pat Barker

Gillian Beer

John Carey

Ciaran Carson

Damian Walford Davies

Anne Enright

Paul Muldoon

Michael Ondaatje

Philip Pullman

Michèle Roberts

Ali Smith

Stephen Tumim

Erica Wagner

2001

Andrew Motion
Chair

Claire Armitstead

Gillian Beer

Stevie Davies

Romesh Gunesekera

Catherine Lockerbie

Deborah Moggach

Alastair Niven

Glenn Patterson

Stephen Tumim

1999

Andrew Motion
Chair

Alain de Botton

Damian Walford Davies

Abdulrazak Gurnah

Roy Foster

Clare Francis

Tess Hurson

Hermione Lee

Catherine Lockerbie

Derwent May

Alan Ross

Janet Suzman

1997

Andrew Motion
Chair

Gillian Beer

Charles Brett

Simon Brett

Iain Crichton Smith

James Fenton

Miriam Gross

Griff Rhys Jones

Ben Okri

Peter Porter

Keith Thomas

M. Wynn Thomas

Claire Tomalin

1995

Michael Holroyd
Chair

Joan Bakewell

Marilyn Butler

Donnell Deeny

James Fenton

Wilson Harris

Miroslav Holub

The Lord Morris of Castle Morris

Blake Morrison

John Mortimer

Anthony Sampson

Mary-Kay Wilmers

Harriet Harvey Wood

1993

Michael Holroyd
Chair

Eleanor Bron

Seamus Heaney

Karl Miller

John Mortimer