Companions of Literature

The title ‘Companion of Literature’ – the highest award bestowed by the RSL – was inaugurated in 1961, and is held by up to 12 writers at any one time.

The honour is currently held by those in bold below.


1961 Sir Winston Churchill E.M. Forster John Masefield W. Somerset Maugham G.M. Trevelyan

1962 Edmund Blunden Aldous Huxley 1963 Dame Edith Sitwell Evelyn Waugh 1964 Elizabeth Bowen Cecil Day-Lewis 1967 Sir Osbert Sitwell 1968 Sir John Betjeman Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett Sir Compton Mackenzie Dame Rebecca West 1972 Lord David Cecil Cyril Connolly L.P. Hartley Sir Angus Wilson 1974 Ruth Pitter Lord Clark Arthur Koestler 1978 Philip Larkin David Garnett Sir Stephen Spender 1983 Samuel Beckett William Golding Graham Greene

1987 Rosamund Lehmann Dame Iris Murdoch Sir Victor Pritchett The Hon Sir Steven Runciman 1991 Anthony Burgess Seamus Heaney Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor Dame Muriel Spark 1994 Sybille Bedford V.S. Naipaul William Trevor 1998 D.J. Enright Harold Pinter 2001 Charles Causley Doris Lessing 2004 Sir Michael Holroyd Sir Tom Stoppard 2007 Michael Frayn Peter Porter 2012 Brian Friel Margaret Atwood Alice Munro 2020 Anita Desai Kazuo Ishiguro Hilary Mantel Edna O’Brien Philip Pullman  Colin Thubron