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This award for Distinguished Services to Writers was given to writer, activist, and humanist Brigid Brophy, who spearheaded – with fellow humanist Maureen Duffy – the campaign to bring about the Public Lending Right in 1979, ensuring writers are paid when their works are borrowed from libraries. A member of the Advisory Council of the British Humanist Association (now Humanists UK) from 1965, Brophy embodied the argument that an embrace of rationalism need not mean the sacrifice of imagination, or a retreat to an ivory tower away from the business of public life. Indeed, it was a group of prominent writers, a number of whom were also prominent humanists, who took the case of the Public Lending Right directly to Downing Street: a deputation in May 1976 included humanists Ted Willis and Angus Wilson, alongside Brophy and Duffy.

Although this award stands to remind us of Brophy’s rich legacy of inventive prose and her impassioned work for literature and its creators, she was also a lifelong advocate of humanism, secularism, animal rights, and freedom of expression. This award recalls the work of Brophy, and other humanists within the arts, to improving the world for one another and for all, whether through creativity, campaigning, or – like Brophy – both.  

Other humanist writers who have been recognised with a Writers’ Guild Award have included Harold Pinter, Peter Ustinov, Jacob Bronowski, Ted Willis, Victoria Wood, Terry Pratchett, Wole Soyinka, and Alan Brownjohn.

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A Humanist Childhood by Kate Levey

Awards | The Writers’ Guild

With thanks to Kate Levey

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