George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee with his family, following the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. Trained in Fine Art, his first book, The Slant Door was joint winner of the Faber Prize in 1980. He has published several books since then that have brought him the Cholmondeley Award and, most recently, the T S Eliot Prize for Reel (2004). His New and Collected Poems were published in 2008 and his most recent of his fourteen books of poems, The Burning of the Books and Other Poems was also shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1982 and of the English Association in 2004.
He has also won a series of prizes and awards as translator of some fourteen Hungarian novels and books of poetry since 1984,
Trained as an artist, has written plays, librettos for operas and musicals as well as for radio and has worked widely as reporter for the national press. He works collaboratively with both composers and visual artists.
Riots and revolutions: Europe's young radicals?
"To contribute to Battle of Ideas is to add a few words to a giant, communal speech-bubble out of the gap-toothed mouth of British opinion. It is a strong reminder that the joys of free, uncalculated speech and the right to attack orthodoxies can in no way be assumed in 2012 – that we use them or lose them."
Piers Hellawell, composer; professor of composition, Queen’s University Belfast