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UK playwright Tom Stoppard wins PEN/Pinter prize

British playwright Tom Stoppard (R) speaks as British director David Hare watches during the annual Literature Festival in Jaipur, capital o
British playwright Tom Stoppard (R) speaks as British director David Hare watches during the annual Literature Festival in Jaipur, capital o

LONDON (Reuters) - British playwright Tom Stoppard has won the 2013 PEN/Pinter Prize established in memory of the late Nobel laureate and fellow dramatist Harold Pinter, organizers said on Wednesday.

The 76-year-old Czech-born Stoppard, who co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the 1998 film "Shakespeare in Love", came to fame in the theatre for writing plays such as "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", "Jumpers" and "Arcadia".

"Harold was one of the reasons I wanted to write plays," Stoppard said in a statement from prize organizer English PEN, a worldwide writers' association and freedom of expression charity.

"His work dominated the foreground of my thoughts about theatre in the few years before I sat down to try to write a play in 1960."

The prize is awarded annually to a British writer or writer living in Britain, who, in the words of Pinter's speech on winning the Nobel literature prize, casts an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze upon the world.

"I had the sense not to attempt a 'Pinter play', but in other respects, as the years went by, he became and remained a model for the kind of fearless integrity which PEN exists to defend among writers, and most of us had occasion to feel humbled by his example," Stoppard said.

Stoppard will receive the award at a public event at the British Library on October 7, PEN said. He will share it with an "International Writer of Courage" chosen by him in association with English PEN's Writers at Risk Committee to recognize a person who has been intimidated for speaking out about their beliefs.

British poet Carol Ann Duffy shared last year's prize with exiled Syrian author Samar Yazbek, whose book "A Woman in the Crossfire" portrayed life inside the Syrian conflict.

(Reporting by Paul Casciato; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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