British author Maggie O’Farrell has won the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction and is crowned the Prize’s 25th winner with her eighth novel Hamnet.
O’Farrell’s Hamnet, set in 1596 and inspired by the life and death of Shakespeare’s only son, was chosen from a shortlist that included Dominicana by Angie Cruz, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and Weather by Jenny Offill.
In a live digital awards ceremony developed for the 25th year, the 2020 Chair of Judges Martha Lane Fox announced Maggie O’Farrell as the winner live from London, while fellow judge Paula Hawkins presented the author with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited-edition bronze figurine, in her hometown of Edinburgh.
Martha Lane Fox, Chair of Judges, said: “The euphoria of being in the same room for the final judging meeting was quickly eclipsed by the excitement we all feel about this exceptional winner. Hamnet, while set long ago, like all truly great novels expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring.”
Joining Martha on the 2020 judging panel were writer and activist Scarlett Curtis, writer and activist, Melanie Eusebe, co-founder of the Black British Business Awards, author and comedian Viv Groskop and Paula Hawkins, international bestselling author.