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Irish Writer's Fellow 2021

Fiona Kidman imageDame Fiona is the inaugural Irish Writer's Fellow at the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Otago. Dame Fiona is one of New Zealand's most celebrated and best-loved writers. Her writing career began in the 1960s with freelance journalism. The first of her twelve novels was published in 1979, and she has also published short story and poetry collections. Her multi-award-winning work often describes life for people outside the mainstream of society.

In 1988, Dame Fiona was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and she became a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998; both honours were for services to literature. The French government has awarded her the French Legion of Honour. She is active in the literary community, serving as president of both the New Zealand Book Council and the New Zealand Society of Authors, and as a board member of the Randell Cottage Writers Trust.

Dame Fiona is of Irish descent and her most recent novel, This Mortal Boy (2018), is based on the true account of Irish immigrant Albert Black, the penultimate prisoner executed in New Zealand. She will spend the months of September and October 2021 in Dunedin, where she will be attached to the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies. Along with mentoring postgraduate students, she will contribute to undergraduate courses in Irish Studies and creative writing, and give a number of public lectures and readings.

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