Alice Oseman will be able to add another award to her shelf as Britain’s prestigious Hay Festival has announced that she will be a recipient of a Medal for Fiction. The Hay Festival for Arts & Literature 2023 will take place May 25 to June 4.
Besides Oseman, other recipients of Hay Medals this year include Mererid Hopwood (Poetry), Serhiy Zhadan (Songwriting) and Salman Rushdie (Prose). While most of this year’s recipients will be able to receive their medals live on stage in May, Salman Rushdie – who was the victim of an attack last year – will receive his remotely.
The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts is a prominent festival in the British cultural calendar. Attracting authors and major cultural figures – and getting significant coverage on British television and radio. Begun in 1988, it takes place across ten days in late May/early June in Hay-on-Wye, Wales every year. Since 2012, when the UK hosted the Olympics, the festival has been awarding its own locally-crafted medals in various cultural fields as illustration, fiction, poetry, drama, and more. Previous recipients have included Chris Riddell (Illustration; 2015), Cressida Cowell (Fiction; 2017), Margaret Atwood (Prose; 2018), Axel Scheffler (Illustration; 2019), and David Harewood (Drama; 2022).
Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said,
“Hay Festival Medals this year will be awarded to honour exceptional work in poetry, fiction, songwriting and prose as we celebrate four groundbreaking storytellers at Hay Festival 2023. This spring’s edition is a beacon, an international symbol of hope for the collective, creative imagination and a better future.”
Oseman debuted in 2014 with her novel Solitaire, at the modest age of 20. She has produced three other standalone novels and two novellas but what she is best known for is her beloved ongoing LGBT romance webcomic Heartstopper which she both writes and illustrates. Debuting in 2017 on Tapas, it amassed a significant following which has only exploded in print. In 2022 Heartstopper was released as a Netflix series, which Oseman scripted. The TV series has been renewed for an additional two seasons.
She has received multiple awards in the literary and TV space – including the Inky YA fiction prize in 2017, and Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Graphic Novels & Comics with the third and fourth Heartstopper collections in 2020 and 2022. Last year was a particularly bumper year for award wins and nominations with both the fourth volume of Heartstopper and the launch of the TV series. In fact – in a time when comic book adaptations to TV and film often have little impact on sales – the Heartstopper show greatly boosted sales such that Oseman was the highest selling comics author in the 2022 UK book space.