Colm Tóibín appointed chancellor of Liverpool University

Post is latest academic appointment for three-time Booker nominated author

Colm Tóibín, after winning the 2010 Irish PEN Award for contribution to Irish Literature. Photograph: Alan Betson

Colm Tóibín, after winning the 2010 Irish PEN Award for contribution to Irish Literature. Photograph: Alan Betson


Novelist Colm Tóibín has been appointed chancellor of the University of Liverpool.

The author, who won the 2009 Costa novel of the year with Brooklyn, accepted the role because of the part universities play promoting ideas and connections, which, he said. mattered now more than ever.

“The ways in which divisions are occurring in Europe mean we must insist that the life of the mind – reading, studying and thinking – remains free, remains something that connects us,” said Tóibín. “I think in the next few years the connections that universities make will be important and I hope to be involved in that and to use all my energy to help in any way.”

Although the role is ceremonial, the 62-year-old Irish writer will act as an international ambassador for the institution. He was attracted to the position because of the close relationship between Liverpool and Dublin going back many hundreds of years.

Announcing the appointment, the vice-chancellor, Prof Janet Beer, said: “Colm is a distinguished writer and public speaker who can connect with a wide global audience. He will not only be an excellent role model for our students, but will help us achieve our vision to be a connected, global university at the forefront of knowledge leadership.”

It is the latest academic appointment for the three-time Booker nominated author. He succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester, and is a visiting professor at several US colleges, including Princeton and Stanford. He is currently a professor of humanities at Columbia University in New York.

A graduate of University College Dublin, Tóibín acknowledged his debt to universities. “As a writer and as a citizen, I have greatly benefited from my own time in higher education, and believe that those of us who have experienced the privilege of education should do our best to make sure that others have the same chance.”

As well as his critically acclaimed novels, Tóibín has written plays and nonfiction, including a memoir A Guest at the Feast. His championing of LGBTQ rights earned him the Irish PEN award in 2011.