Helen Edmundson

Helen Edmundson’s ambitious plays distill historical complexities through characters whose passions and ethical dilemmas mirror and illuminate a larger political landscape.

Helen Edmundson is a British playwright admired for her original work as well as her masterful adaptations of the literary classics Anna Karenina (1992), The Mill on the Floss (1994), and War and Peace (1996). Her plays are simultaneously vast and intimate, at once complicating familiar figures and dexterously illuminating the history they helped shape. “All my plays start with ideas,” Edmundson told The Guardian. “I wouldn't want someone to leave and not feel they've been made to think about the world they're living in.” The Clearing (1993), one of her earliest original plays, addresses Oliver Cromwell’s devastation of Ireland through the lens of individual characters’ conflicted loyalties. It won a Time Out Theatre Award and a John Whiting Award. The Heresy of Love, a bold take on seventeenth-century Mexican nun and writer Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, and Mary Shelley, about the eponymous author and her philosopher father, both premiered in 2012. Her adaptation of Emile Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin was staged by New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company in 2015, featuring Keira Knightley in her Broadway debut.

Well, that's the most exciting and unexpected email I've ever received. This is a huge honor. The sense of affirmation, the encouragement this award gives me, will sustain my confidence through years of work to come. And the money is simply overwhelming--liberating and empowering in so many ways. Thank you. HELEN EDMUNDSON