November 17, 2023 | Press Release

Professor Roy Foster, Irish writer and historian, to be honoured with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2023

  • Foster’s award-winning literary career has spanned over four decades, with many published works including Modern Ireland 1600-1972, the two-volume W.B. Yeats: A Life and Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland 1890-1923 

  • Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Professor Foster at the annual An Post Irish Book Awards in Dublin on 22nd November

  • Foster joins a host of distinguished recipients such as Anne Enright, Sebastian Barry, Maeve Binchy, Colm Tóibín, Eavan Boland and Séamus Heaney


The An Post Irish Book Awards is delighted to announce that Professor Roy Foster is the recipient of this year’s ‘Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award’. The award will be presented on 22nd November at the 2023 awards ceremony in The Convention Centre, Dublin. 


As the 2023 Lifetime Achievement honouree, Professor Roy Foster will join a host of other distinguished recipients including Anne Enright, Sebastian Barry, Colm Tóibín, Thomas Kinsella, Eavan Boland, John Montague, J.P. Donleavy, Paul Durcan, John Banville, Maeve Binchy, John McGahern, Edna O’Brien, William Trevor, Séamus Heaney and Jennifer Johnston. All previous winners of The Lifetime Achievement Award can be found at


Professor Roy Foster has published widely on Irish history and has taught at some of the world’s most prestigious universities including University of London, Oxford, and Princeton. Foster’s oeuvre includes a two-part biography of W.B. Yeats, which was awarded the 1998 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, and Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890 -1923, which won a British Academy Medal and the Frokosch Prize from The American Historical Association. Other titles by Foster include Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change from 1970 and On Seamus Heaney.


In conferring the award, the Board of the Irish Book Awards stated:

“Roy Foster has been described as “one of the most distinguished modern heirs of the great tradition of Anglo-Irish liberalism, which flows through Wolfe Tone and Charles Stewart Parnell to W.B. Yeats and on to such latter-day luminaries as the essayist Hubert Butler and the historian F.S.L. Lyons.”

Many will remember the impact of his magisterial Modern Ireland 1600-1972, published in 1988, it sold in quantities more normally associated with writers like Maeve Binchy and Seamus Heaney. It has since become the definitive history of the period in which Irish history was dominated by the paradox that a largely Catholic country was governed by a constitutionally Protestant one. Triggering the widely-contested “revisionism” debate, it succeeded in demonstrating that Irish history was more than just the story of Irish nationalism.

His two-volume biography of W. B. Yeats was no less of a publishing phenomenon when it appeared in 1998 and 2003 and all his subsequent publications, such as Luck and the Irish and Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890–1923, have consolidated his position as a genuinely popular historian capable of reaching a huge readership.

Widely admired in his own country for the wit, warmth, and eloquence he brings to the role of historian and public intellectual, Foster is a true internationalist who has taught at some of the world’s most prestigious universities such as the University of London, Oxford, and Princeton.

For all of the above reasons, the Board of the An Post Irish Book Awards wish to present the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award to Roy Foster.”


Brendan Corbett, Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards, says:

The Board of the An Post Irish Book Awards is delighted to present the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor Roy Foster. Foster is an internationalist and his knowledge, brilliance and passion are apparent through his many publications. He has enabled Irish social and political history to be accessible to all and is an inspiration for both writers and historians alike.”


Fintan O'Toole, historian, literary editor, journalist and critic, said:

“The great writers are the ones who really make us think about ourselves. Roy Foster has been an absolutely crucial figure in making Irish people think about what it means to be Irish, and I think most people believe that he’s done us a great service in making us think about the idea of being Irish as containing a lot of different identities and a lot of contradictions.”


The An Post Irish Book Awards celebrate and promote Irish writing to the widest range of readers possible. Each year it brings together a vast community passionate about books – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians – to recognise the very best of Irish writing talent across 20 categories. The winners will be announced on 22nd November 2023.


The categories are:

  • Best Irish-Published Book of the Year
  • Bookselling Ireland Biography of the Year
  • Cookbook of the Year
  • Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year
  • Dubray Non-Fiction Book of the Year
  • Eason Sports Book of the Year in association with Ireland AM
  • Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year
  • Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year
  • Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year
  • National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year
  • Eason Novel of the Year
  • Foras na Gaeilge Irish Language Fiction Book of the Year Award
  • The Last Word Listeners’ Choice Award
  • New Voices: The An Post Writing Prize
  • International Education Services Teen and Young Adult Book of the Year, in honour of John Treacy
  • Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year – Junior
  • Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year – Senior
  • Short Story of the Year
  • Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year
  • An Post Bookshop of the Year


A one-hour television special, hosted by Oliver Callan, will be broadcast on RTÉ One on 6th December giving viewers an exclusive insight into the six books and their authors competing for the accolade of ‘An Post Irish Book Awards Book of the Year 2023’, culminating in the reveal of this year’s overall winner.


For further information, please visit to the An Post Irish Book Awards website or social media channels:

Facebook: @AnPostIBAS

Instagram: @anpost_irishbookawards

Twitter: @AnPostIBAS


For more details, please contact:

Breda Brown / Aimée Winn 

Unique Media

Tel: (01) 522 5200 (UM) / 086 841 1455 (AW)


Breda Brown

Key Events Manager

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