Born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955, Colm Tóibín lived in Spain for several years before returning to Ireland to work as a journalist, editing In Dublin and Magill magazines.
His first novel, The South, won the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literature Prize in 1991; subsequent novels are The Heather Blazing (1992), The Story of the Night (1996) and The Blackwater Lightship (1999), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His non-fiction includes Walking Along the Border (1987, reissued in 1994 as Bad Blood), Homage to Barcelona (1990), The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe (1994), Love in a Dark Time (2001), a collection of essays about gay writers and artists, and Lady Gregory's Toothbrush (2002). He won the E.M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995, and in 2000 was a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at New York Public Library. The Master was published in 2004. Colm Tóibín was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004. The Master won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger for the best foreign novel published in 2005 in France. In June 2006, Colm Tóibín won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the world’s largest literary prize at €100,000 for a single work of fiction - also for The Master. He has been a Visiting Writer at the University of Texas at Austin and at Stanford University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His novel, Brooklyn, was published in May 2009.
Date of appointment: 13 August 2008
Length of tenure: 5 years