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Anne Enright

Anne Enright at Literaturhaus Köln, 18 November 2008
Anne Enright at Literaturhaus Köln, 18 November 2008
Born Anne Teresa Enright
(1962-10-11) 11 October 1962 (age 60)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Writer
Nationality Irish
Alma mater
Period Contemporary
Genre Novel, short story
Subject Family
Notable works
  • Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (2004)
    The Gathering (2007)
Notable awards Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, 1991
Encore Award, 2001
Booker Prize, 2007
Irish Novel of the Year, 2008
Years active 1991–present
Spouse Martin Murphy
Children 2

Anne Teresa Enright FRSL (born 11 October 1962) is an Irish writer. She has published seven novels, many short stories and a non-fiction work called Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, about the birth of her two children. Her writing explores themes such as family, love, identity and motherhood.

Enright won the 2007 Booker Prize for her fourth novel The Gathering. Her second novel, What Are You Like?, was shortlisted in the novel category of the 2000 Whitbread Awards.

Early life

Anne Enright was born in Dublin, Ireland, and was educated at St Louis High School, Rathmines. She won an international scholarship to Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia, where she studied for an International Baccalaureate for two years. She then completed a BA in English and Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. She began writing in earnest when she was given an electric typewriter for her 21st birthday. She won a Chevening Scholarship to the University of East Anglia's Creative Writing Course, where she studied under Angela Carter and Malcolm Bradbury and completed an MA degree.

Enright was a television producer and director for RTÉ in Dublin for six years and produced the RTÉ programme Nighthawks for four years. She then worked in children's programming for two years and wrote on weekends. She began writing full-time in 1993. Her full-time career as a writer came about when she left television due to a breakdown, later remarking: "I recommend it [...] having a breakdown early. If your life just falls apart early on, you can put it together again. It's the people who are always on the brink of crisis who don't hit bottom who are in trouble." Of her time spent working behind the scenes as a producer, Enright said: "There was a great buzz and sometimes I felt like awarding myself purple hearts for the work I was doing." It was a time of "drinking too much" and "hanging around" with people "who don't really have steady jobs".

Personal life

Enright lives in Dublin, having previously lived in Bray, County Wicklow, until 2014. She is married to Martin Murphy, who was director of the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire and now works as an adviser to the Arts Council of Ireland. It is Murphy who is credited with helping Enright when she was weakened with illness. They have two children, a son and daughter.


She has described her working practice as involving "rocking the pram with one hand and typing with the other".

Critics have suggested that it was from the work of Flann O'Brien that Enright derived her early efforts. 1991 brought the publication of The Portable Virgin, a collection of her short stories. Angela Carter (who, as Enright's former creative writing teacher, knew her well) called it "elegant, scrupulously poised, always intelligent and, not least, original."

Enright's first novel was published in 1995. Titled The Wig My Father Wore, the book explores themes such as love, motherhood and the Catholic Church. The narrator of the novel is Grace, who lives in Dublin and works for a tacky game show. Her father wears a wig that cannot be spoken of in front of him. .....

In 2000 Enright's second novel, What Are You Like?, was published. About twin girls called Marie and Maria who are separated at birth and raised apart from each other in Dublin and London, it looks at tensions and ironies between family members. It was shortlisted in the novel category of the Whitbread Awards.

Enright's third novel, The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch, published in 2002, is a fictionalised account of the life of Eliza Lynch, an Irish woman who was the consort of Paraguayan president Francisco Solano López and became Paraguay's most powerful woman in the 19th century.

Enright's 2004 book Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood is a collection of candid and humorous essays about childbirth and motherhood.

Her fourth novel, The Gathering, won the Booker Prize in 2007. The aide-de-camp of President McAleese acknowledged the result. A positive review in The New York Times stated that there was "no consolation" in The Gathering.

Enright's seventh novel Actress was selected for the longlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020. It tells the story of a daughter detailing her mother's rise to fame in late twentieth-century Irish theatre, Broadway, and Hollywood.

A scene in The Gathering is set in the foyer of Belvedere Hotel.


Her writing has appeared in various magazines and newspapers. The New Yorker has published writing credited to her in seven years over two decades: 2000, 2001 and 2005, 2007, 2017, 2019 and 2020. The 4 October 2007 issue of the London Review of Books published Enright's piece "Disliking the McCanns" about Kate and Gerry McCann, the British parents of the three-year-old child Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in suspicious circumstances while on holiday with her family in Portugal in May 2007. Mary Kenny described Enright as "irrationally prejudiced", a woman with "bad judgement", and questioned an apology which Enright issued and which focused on the "timing" of its publication.

Enright was once a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, and has also reviewed for RTÉ. She has also been in The Dublin Review, The Irish Times, The Guardian, Granta and The Paris Review.

In 2011, the Irish Academic Press published a collection of essays about her writing, edited by Claire Bracken and Susan Cahill. Her writing is illustrated in the video "Reading Ireland".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed Enright as the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. During her time as Laureate for Irish Fiction, Enright promoted people's engagement with Irish literature through public lectures and creative writing classes. She later took up teaching at UCD's School of English, beginning in the 2018–19 academic year.


  • 1991 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for The Portable Virgin
  • 2001 Encore Award for What Are You Like?
  • 2004 Davy Byrne's Irish Writing Award
  • 2007 Booker Prize for The Gathering
  • 2008 Irish Novel of the Year for The Gathering
  • 2010 Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
  • 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist for The Forgotten Waltz
  • 2012 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for The Forgotten Waltz
  • 2012 Honorary Degree (DLit) from Goldsmiths College, University of London
  • 2016 Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award for The Green Road
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