The Benson Medal

An annual award for outstanding contribution to literature.

The 2023 Medal

The 2023 Medal was awarded to Susan Roberts.


The Benson Medal was founded in 1916 by A.C. Benson, scholar, author and RSL Fellow, ‘in respect of meritorious works in poetry, fiction, history and belles lettres’.

The medal honours a whole career rather than a single work, has been awarded several times to writers in other languages, and is now awarded those who are not writers, but who have done conspicuous service to literature.


1917 Gabriele d’Annunzio, Benito Perez Galdos, Maurice Barres 

1923 Lytton Strachey

1925 Gordon Bottomley, George Santayana

1926 Percy Lubbock, Robert Lynd, Harold Nicolson 

1927 F.A. Simpson, Helen Waddell 

1930 Edmund Blunden

1931 Stella Benson

1934 Edith Sitwell

1938 E.M. Forster, G.M. Young

1939 F.L. Lucas, Andrew Young

1940 John Gawsworth, Christopher Hassall 

1941 Christopher La Farge

1952 F.S. Boas


1966 J.R.R. Tolkien, Rebecca West, E.V. Rieu

1969 Cecil Woodham-Smith

1975 Philip Larkin

1979 R.K. Narayan

1981 Odysseus Elytis, Sacheverell Sitwell

1982 A.L. Rowse

1989 Anthony Burgess, Nadine Gordimer

1990 Wole Soyinka

1993 Julien Green

1996 Shusaku Endo

2000 Christopher Fry

2002 David Sutton, Anita Desai

2004 James Parker, Maureen Duffy

2005 Edward Upward

2006 Ronald Blythe, Joan Winterkorn

2007 Nadine Gordimer

2008 John Saumarez Smith, 
Douglas Matthews


Mark Le Fanu, Kay Dunbar

2010 Al Alvarez

2011 Diana Athill, Francis King

2012 David Pease, Jenny Uglow

2013 Wm. Roger Louis

2014 Deirdre Le Faye, Valentina Polukhina

2015 Nancy Sladek

2016 Christopher MacLehose

2017 Margaret Busby, Carmen Callil, Mary-Kay Wilmers

2018 Liz Calder

2019 Susheila Nasta

2020 Boyd Tonkin

2021 Alastair Niven

2022 Sandra Agard

2023 Susan Roberts

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