Congratulations to Dr Alastair Niven OBE LVO (OA 54-63) who has been awarded The Benson Medal by The Royal Society of Literature for outstanding contribution to literature.
Founded in 1916 by scholar, author and RSL Fellow A.C. Benson, the Benson Medal honours service to literature across a whole career.
Born in Edinburgh, Alastair has held academic positions at the Universities of Ghana, Leeds, Stirling, Aarhus, London and Oxford. He was Director General of the Africa Centre for six years. Uniquely he was Director of Literature at the Arts Council of Great Britain, Arts Council England and the British Council. For twelve years he was Principal of Cumberland Lodge, Windsor. He was President of English PEN, 2003-7. He has written critical books and articles on many authors, including Chinua Achebe, Mulk Raj Anand, D. H. Lawrence, and Raja Rao. His autobiography was published in 2021.
In a film produced by the Royal Society of Literature, Alastair describes what receiving it means to him: