The David Cohen Prize will next be awarded in 2023. The 2023 judges are the eminent writers, journalists and critics: Hermione Lee (Chair of the Judges), Aida Edemariam, Helen Mort, Malachy Tallack and Boyd Tonkin.

Hermione Lee (Chair of Judges)

Hermione Lee is a literary biographer and Emeritus Professor of Literature at the University of Oxford, where she was President of Wolfson College from 2008 to 2017 and founded the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. Her work includes biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Penelope Fitzgerald and Tom Stoppard, critical books on Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather and Philip Roth, and books about life-writing: Body Parts in 2005, a “Very Short Introduction” to Biography in 2009, and, in 2020, a co-edited collection, Lives of Houses. 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 in the past, 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

Aida Edemariam

Aida Edemariam‘s first book, The Wife’s Tale, was a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award in Canada and won both a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award and the 2019 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. She has judged various prizes, including the International Booker Prize, and is a senior feature writer and editor at the Guardian.

Helen Mort

Helen Mort is a poet who has also written novels and non-fiction. Her collections Division Street, No Map Could Show Them and The Illustrated Woman are all published by Chatto & Windus. Her memoir A Line Above the Sky (Ebury, 2022) is shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Award. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Malachy Tallack

Malachy Tallack is the award-winning author of four books, most recently Illuminated by Water (Doubleday, 2022). His novel, The Valley at the Centre of the World (Canongate, 2018) was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime; it was shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize and longlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. Malachy is from Shetland, and currently lives in Fife.

Boyd Tonkin

Boyd Tonkin is a journalist, editor and critic who in 2020 was awarded the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal for service to literature over the course of a career. His writing on literature and arts appears in international media including The Economist, The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and Times Literary Supplement. As Literary Editor and then Senior Writer of The Independent (1996-2016), he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in collaboration with Arts Council England, and judged it 2001-2015. He chaired the Man Booker International Prize 2016 and then served as the prize’s Special Adviser. His reader’s guide to global fiction, The 100 Best Novels in Translation, is published by Galileo. He is a Trustee of the Orwell Foundation, a member of the Booker Prize Foundation’s advisory committee, and an editorial adviser to the journal Critical Muslim.

Past Judges


Hermione Lee

Susheila Nasta

Peter Kemp

Maura Dooley

Reeta Chakrabarti


Mark Lawson

Kate Maltby

Jon McGregor

David Park

Imtiaz Dharker

Viv Groskop

Dr Zoe Strimpel


Mark Lawson

Kate Bassett

Gillian Clarke

Simon J. James

Alan Johnson

Denise Mina

Anita Sethi


Mark Lawson

Gillian Bee

Adam Begley

Melissa Benn

Susannah Clapp

Blake Morrison

Leo Robson

Kamila Shamsie

Michael Symmons-Roberts


Mark Lawson

Shirley Chew

Sarah Hall

Kathleen Jamie

Sam Leith

Fiona MacCarthy

Daljit Nagra

Kate Summerscale

Roy Williams


Mark Lawson

Ellah Allfrey

Simon Armitage

Michael Billington

Sarah Churchwell

Tobias Hill

Kathryn Hughes

Karl Miller

Michael Prodger


Andrew Motion

Rachel Bowlby

Robert Crawford

Lavinia Greenlaw

Maya Jaggi

Alberto Manguel

Jack Mapanje

Rose Tremain

John Walsh


Andrew Motion

Liz Calder

Anne Enright

Jackie Kay

Hilary Mantel

Chris Smith

Peter Stothard

Boyd Tonkin

Jeremy Treglown


Andrew Motion

Antony Beevor

Caroline Gascoigne

Maggie Gee

Martyn Goff

Jennifer Johnston

Doris Lessing


Andrew Motion

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


Andrew Motion

Claire Armitstead

Gillian Beer

Stevie Davies

Romesh Gunesekera

Catherine Lockerbie

Deborah Moggach

Alastair Niven

Glenn Patterson

Stephen Tumim


Andrew Motion

Alain de Botton

Damian Walford Davies

Abdulrazak Gurnah

Roy Foster

Clare Francis

Tess Hurson

Hermione Lee

Catherine Lockerbie

Derwent May

Alan Ross

Janet Suzman


Andrew Motion

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


Michael Holroyd

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


Michael Holroyd

Eleanor Bron

Seamus Heaney

Karl Miller

John Mortimer