November 07, 2018

Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award 2018 conferred on Sir William Mark Tully; Jayanta Mahapatra named Tata Steel Literature Live! Poet Laureate

Mumbai: Veteran journalist, writer and former BBC India correspondent Sir William Mark Tully KBE has been announced as the recipient of the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018. Renowned poet Jayanta Mahapatra has been chosen as the Tata Steel Literature Live! Poet Laureate for 2018. Both these awards recognise and salute sustained and outstanding contribution to writing and literature in India. 

The Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Sir Mark Tully on Friday, November 16, 2018, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai. The Poet Laureate Award will be presented to Mr Mahapatra on Sunday, November 18, 2018, at the same venue. 

Founder and festival director Anil Dharker said, “We are delighted to announce Sir Mark Tully as the recipient of this year’s Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award and Jayanta Mahapatra as the Poet Laureate. Sir Mark’s insightful work explaining and connecting India to the rest of the world made him one of the most internationally respected and riveting chroniclers of our times. Mr Mahapatra’s profound and many-layered verse exemplifies sympathetic imagination and has made him one of India’s most lauded poets at home and abroad. We very much look forward to welcoming both of them at the festival.”

On receiving news of the award, Sir Mark said, “The poet John Donne said ‘No man is an island’. No winner of a lifetime award should ever forget that. I remember how much I owe to others, to what I have been given by God, to sheer good luck, and of course to India. It is here that I have established myself by having the unique good fortune to broadcast to Indians almost daily in the days when radio was king.  So I see this award as given not just to me but also to the BBC and for all those journalists in India and back in BBC headquarters who I relied on. I am proud that between us we won the confidence of millions of Indians. Since my BBC days I have taken to writing books. I hope they too do justice to India.” 

Harish Bhat, brand custodian, Tata Sons, said, “It is a privilege to present the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award to Sir Mark Tully this year, commemorating his active and diverse contribution to literature, as well as his long and distinguished association with Indian journalism. We are looking forward greatly to hearing him at the festival.”

Indian English poet Jayanta Mahapatra said, “An award from Tata Literature Live! is something to be proud of. I am honoured to receive this award.”

Kulvin Suri, chief, corporate communications, India and SE Asia, Tata Steel, remarked, “Tata Steel is committed to the advancement of Indian arts, literature and culture. Humanist, physicist and essayist, Jayanta Mahapatra is one of the finest bilingual Indian English poets. The power of his poetry touches the hearts. We are pleased to honour him with the Tata Steel Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award for exceptional poetry. We do hope Mr Mahapatra's achievements inspire young poets to follow their passion.”

Mark Tully was born in Kolkata in 1935 and educated in India and England. He joined the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1964 and moved to India as the BBC’s India correspondent the following year. He covered all the major events in South Asia for thirty years, until he resigned from the BBC in 1994. Since then he has been a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in New Delhi. Sir Mark has published several books on India, including the well-received ‘No Full Stops in India’. He is a recipient of the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and British Academy Television Richard Dimbleby awards, and was knighted and received a KBE in 2002.

Jayanta Mahapatra was born in Cuttack in 1928 and graduated in physics, which subject he taught at university till retirement.  He started writing poetry relatively late but soon won recognition both in India and abroad for his tranquil and lyrical verse. He is one of the trio of poets who laid the foundations for Indian poetry in English and the first Indian poet writing in English to be awarded the Sahitya Akademi award. His poems like ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Relationship’ are considered modern literary classics. His work has appeared in international publications such as the New Yorker. 

Past recipients of the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award include Sir V S Naipaul, Girish Karnad, Amitav Ghosh and Mahashweta Devi. Past recipients of the Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate award include Gulzar Saab, Vikram Seth and Keki Daruwalla. 

One of the most anticipated events in the literary calendar — Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest, a festival of ideas, literature and culture — returns to Mumbai bringing together over 100 authors spanning a multitude of genres, at the four-day experiential extravaganza, to be held from Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th  November at the NCPA (Nariman Point), Prithvi Theatre (Juhu), and Title Waves and St Pauls Institute of Communication Education (Bandra).

Entry to the festival is free, and entry to sessions will be on a first-come first-in basis. Unlike previous years, there will not be any pass system this year. 

Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest will run from Thursday 15th through Sunday 18th November at the NCPA, Nariman Point (November 15-18); at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu (November 17-18); and also at a new, third venue, Title Waves and St Pauls Institute of Communication Education, Bandra (November 17-18).

For more details about Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2018, please visit:

The Tata group is the title sponsor of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest, Tata Steel is the co-sponsor and Landmark is the knowledge partner. The festival is conceived by Anil Dharker, founder and festival director of Literature Live!, which organises the festival with the support of the Tata group.