For this, the third 26 Annual Speech, novelist, broadcaster and critic Howard Jacobson, winner of the 2010 Man Booker prize has kindly agreed to be the next in an already-illustrious line of speakers, which includes speechwriting guru Philip Collins and broadcasting-and-diversity expert – not to mention ex-MP – Oona King. Those lucky enough to have attended either, or both, of those speeches will know what special occasions they were. And this one is definitely not to be missed.
Since Coming From Behind established Jacobson’s reputation as a leading comic writer in the 1980s, through award-winners such as The Mighty Walzer and Kalooki Nights to 2008’s The Act of Love, Jacobson’s unique voice has become an established part of the international literary scene. In addition, he is the author of non-fiction works on, among other things, heroes in Shakespeare, the functions of comedy and travel in Australia, and he has been the subject of a South Bank Show special and presenter of numerous other TV shows.
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26 is a diverse group of people who share a love of words, and believe their potential is hugely underestimated. Many of us work with words for a living, as writers, language specialists, editors, designers or publishers, but anyone who cares about words is welcome to join. Together, we hope to raise the profile and value of words not only in business, but also in everyday life.
Individuals, businesses, charities and government bodies all have compelling stories to tell – and we hope to show them how experienced and imaginative writers can find new and credible ways to engage their audiences. But we also want to open hearts and minds to the wonderful diversity of writing, to savour and enjoy words in all their many guises… and to have some fun.
We chose the name 26 because there are 26 letters in the alphabet – the DNA of language. We’re a not-for-profit organisation.