Margaret Jull Costa

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Margaret Jull Costa OBE is a British translator of Portuguese and Spanish fiction and poetry, including the works of Nobel Prize winners José Saramago, Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, Javier Marías, Bernardo Atxaga and José Régio.

Jull Costa was joint-winner of the Portuguese Translation Prize in 1992 for The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, and was runner-up in 1996 and 2002 for The Relic by Eça de Queiroz and The Migrant Painter of Birds by Lídia Jorge.

With Spanish novelist Javier Marías she won the 1997 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for the Harvill edition of his novel A Heart So White.

In recent years she has been noted for her work in translating the novels of José Saramago. Her translation of All the Names won the 2000 Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, while her translation of Death at Intervals, about a country where death ceases to exist, was published in 2008.[1]

As part of its 'Europe 1992-2004' programme, the UK publishers Dedalus embarked on a series of new translations by Jull Costa of some of the major classics of Portuguese literature. These include seven works by Eça de Queiroz: Cousin Bazilio (1878, translation published 2003, funded by the Arts Council of England), The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers, The Mandarin (and Other Stories), The Relic, The Crime of Father Amaro, The Maias and The City and the Mountains (2008).

In 2006, she was short-listed for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for her translation of the first part of Javier Marías's trilogy, Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear, and also won the Arts Council, Spanish Embassy and Instituto Cervantes translation prize for the same work. The second part, 2: Dance and Dream, was published in 2006,[2] while the concluding part, 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell, appeared in November 2009.[3] This last volume won her the 2010 Premio Valle-Inclan.

Her English translation of The Accordionist's Son by the Basque author Bernardo Atxaga was published by Harvill Secker (2007) [4][5] and won a Times Literary Supplement Translation Prize in January 2010;[6] while her previous translations of Atxaga's work include The Lone Man (1996) and The Lone Woman (1999).

Her translation of The Maias by Eça de Queiroz, published by Dedalus Books in 2007 and described by José Saramago as "the greatest book by Portugal's greatest novelist", won both the 2008 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize and the 2008 Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize,[7][8] thus winning the only translation prizes open to books from all languages and periods on the two sides of the Atlantic.

In 2008, as first of a new Dedalus Euro Shorts series, Jull Costa made the first-ever English translation of Helena, or The Sea in Summer, Julián Ayesta's enduring, pointillist novel, first published in Spain in 1952 as Hélena o el mar del verano, and for which he is most remembered. Her biographical introduction to the book provides English-language readers with a brief but essential portrait of Ayesta (1919–1996), author, Spanish diplomat and outspoken critic of the Franco regime.

In 2011, she won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for the third time with her translation of The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago.[9] More recently, in 2012, she was winner and runner-up of the Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for The Word Tree by Teolinda Gersão and for António Lobo Antunes's The Land at the End of the World. In 2015, she won the Marsh Award for Children's Fiction in Translation for 'The Adventures of Shola' by Bernardo Atxaga.

In 2013 she was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to literature.[10]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5]
  6. ^ The Times, Found in Translation page 2, 11 January 2010
  7. ^ [6]
  8. ^ Dedalus Books, News
  9. ^ Previous winners.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60895. p. b11. 14 June 2014.

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