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Award-winning poet and author to receive George Sayer Fellowship from Malvern College

George Sayer Dec 1974 Malvernian

The award-winning poet and author behind BBC climate change drama The Trick is to receive a fellowship named in honour of a former English teacher and close friend of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

Owen Sheers was due to be awarded Malvern College’s George Sayer Fellowship in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic meant the presentation had to be postponed. It will now take place on 8 June.

George Sayer was Head of English at Malvern College from 1949 until his retirement in 1974. He lived in the town and would often entertain his friends JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis there.

Mr Sayer, who went on to pen a biography of Lewis, is said to have persuaded Tolkien not to burn his manuscript of The Lord of the Rings when the author was losing faith in the novel. 

Mr Sayer died in 2005. Malvern College launched the George Sayer Fellowship in his honour in 2018.

Mr Sheers’ first novel, Resistance, was translated into 10 languages and adapted into a film. The Dust Diaries, his Zimbabwean non-fiction narrative, won the Welsh Book of the Year. 

His awards for poetry and drama include the Somerset Maugham Award for Skirrid Hill, The Hay Festival Poetry Medal and the Welsh Book of the Year for Pink Mist and the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award for his play The Two Worlds of Charlie F

His second novel, I Saw A Man, was published by Faber & Faber in 2015. In October 2021 his climate change drama The Trick was broadcast on BBC One in the run up to COP 26 and was recently part of PBS’s Earth Day coverage in the US.

Dr Bradley Wells, Head of Academic Scholarship at Malvern College said:

“We are delighted to finally be welcoming Owen Sheers to Malvern as recipient of the George Sayer Fellowship. The purpose of the Fellowship is to benefit our local community and the pupils at Malvern College and local senior schools by offering an enriched academic insight that honours George’s literary and intellectual legacy.

“Owen’s rich body of work makes him the ideal recipient.”

On the evening of 8 June, Mr Sheers will present the George Sayer Fellowship Lecture, entitled On Voice and Other Voices at the school’s Rogers Theatre. Admission is free but tickets must be booked in advance. They are available from

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