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Break out the bubbly – Bernardine gets gong upgrade

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Brunel’s Booker Prize-winning writer, Bernardine Evaristo cracked out the fizz to celebrate getting an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Bernardine, who last year became the first black woman to win the prize with her Sunday Times best-selling novel, Girl Woman, Other already had an MBE under her belt.

“It’s always good to be receive a national honour, so I was delighted,” she said of her latest title for services to literature. “It’s an upgrade on the MBE I received in 2009.”

She joins former Great British Bake Off judge, Mary Berry and grime music trailblazer, Dizzee Rascal, also on the Queen’s latest list of national treasures revealed on Friday.

“My message to younger writers,” said the creative writing professor, 61, “is that firstly the work is its own reward. Prizes and honours, should they come, are good for careers but shouldn’t be the reason why you write.

“If you are passionate about writing then this will keep you going through the tough times. It’s a long road ahead so you need to focus, be resourceful, find ways to support your creativity and continue to develop your skills.”

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Normally announced in June, the honours were delayed until Autumn because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone who gets one, whether Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Knight or Dame, is traditionally invited to an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

Find out some of what makes the writer, poet and playwright tick in a recent broadcast of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.