Ali Smith
Ali Smith

Celebrated writer, Ali Smith, to be awarded the Bodley Medal at the Oxford Literary Festival, 2024

Scottish author, playwright, academic and journalist, Ali Smith, is to be awarded the Bodleian Library’s highest honour, the Bodley Medal, for her contribution to the world of literature.

The Bodley Medal is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to books, literature, libraries, media and communications, science and philanthropy. This year it will be awarded to Ali Smith at the 2024 Oxford Literary Festival when Smith will deliver the Bodley Lecture and will be in conversation with Bodley’s Librarian, Richard Ovenden.

The Bodley MedalThe Bodley Medal
First presented in the 17th century, the Bodley Medal was revived in 2002. Previous recipients who have also delivered the Bodley Lecture include Peter Carey (2012), Hilary Mantel (2013), Professor Dame Mary Beard (2016), Sir Kazuo Ishiguro (2019), Zadie Smith (2022), and Colm Tóibín (2023).

Ali Smith is a multi-award winning author who has received the Goldsmith’s Prize, the Orwell Prize, the Costa Best Novel Award and the Women’s Prize.  She has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize four times. Her novels and short story collections include The Accidental, Hotel World, How to be both and the Seasonal Quartet. Her most recent novel was Companion Piece, a story that switches between post-Brexit lockdown Britain and the Middle Ages.

Speaking of the award, Ali Smith says: ‘I couldn’t be more amazed and delighted at the gracious Bodley Medal coming my way. Particularly because it comes from one of the world’s greatest libraries. Libraries are the ultimate source of sources – of thought; of knowledge; of history; of art; of language’s own history and process and power; of the relationship between imagination, truth and fiction; themselves they’re the prime and communal source of every book. I’ll keep it on my desk as a talisman.’

Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, says: ‘Ali Smith is an extraordinary writer. Her work considers the timely and timeless complexities of our world with a great sensitivity. She combines precision with playfulness and a highly original voice, inviting readers to engage with her work in inventive – even mischievous – new ways. Smith’s powerful writing has a conscience of its own; it invites and encourages us to consider our moral responsibilities to society.  With a fierce conviction that reading does not just change lives, but helps us to live better lives, Ali Smith is a highly appropriate recipient of the Bodley Medal.’

The Medal presentation ceremony will take place following the Bodley Lecture and an interview in the Sheldonian Theatre by Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian and Head of Oxford’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums. The event will be a highlight of the 2024 Oxford Literary Festival.

Event: The Bodley Lecture and Award of the Bodley Medal: Ali Smith interviewed by Richard Ovenden
Venue: Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford
Date and time: Thursday 21 March 2024, 18:00-19:30
Tickets: £8-£20, advance booking required online