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Margaret Jull Costa

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Margaret Elisabeth Jull Costa OBE,[1] OIH (born 2 May 1949) is a British translator of Portuguese- and Spanish-language fiction and poetry, including the works of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, Paulo Coelho, Bernardo Atxaga, Carmen Martín Gaite, Javier Marías, and José Régio. She has won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize more times than any other translator.[2]

Early life[edit]

Costa was born in Richmond upon Thames, England, in 1949.[3]


She earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Portuguese from the University of Bristol before receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to Stanford University, where she achieved a Master of Arts.[3][4]

Writing career[edit]

In recent years she has been noted for her work in translating the novels of José Saramago, for which she won a number of awards. Her translations include All the Names, and Death at Intervals, about a country where death ceases to exist, was published in 2008.[5]

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 published the translation of the first part of Javier Marías's trilogy, Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear. The second part, 2: Dance and Dream, was published in 2006,[6] while the concluding part, 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell, appeared in November 2009.[7] 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)[8] 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 was published by Dedalus Books in 2007. The original book was described by José Saramago as "the greatest book by Portugal's greatest novelist".[9]

In 2008, as the 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 Francoist Spain.

Selected translations[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours List". TheGuardian.com. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize". The Queen's College, Oxford. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Margaret Jull Costa, The Art of Translation No. 7". The Paris Review, 233: 179, 186. Summer 2020.
  4. ^ "Bookslut | An Interview with Margaret Jull Costa". www.bookslut.com. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Arts and Entertainment". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 9 March 2016. (subscription required)
  7. ^ "Arts and Entertainment". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 9 March 2016. (subscription required)
  8. ^ "Culture". The Telegraph. 8 March 2017. Archived from the original on 9 December 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  9. ^ "Dedalus News & Blog:: Dedalus Books, Publishers of Literary Fiction". Dedalusbooks.com. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  10. ^ "St Anne's College, Oxford | Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize". Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  11. ^ "The Times, Found in Translation page 2, 11 January 2010".
  12. ^ "St Anne's College, Oxford | Previous winners". Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  13. ^ "No. 60895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b11.
  14. ^ Jackman, Josh (20 April 2015). "Michel Laub and Thomas Harding win JQ-Wingate Prize for books on the Holocaust". The Jewish Chronicle.
  15. ^ From the judges' citation: ‘Chirbes’ anguished, bleak view, interspersed with moments of lyrical beauty, sets a translator enormous challenges, for sentences and paragraphs extend for pages, often with abrupt changes in narrative voice and chronology. Margaret Jull Costa's translation meets all these challenges most admirably, capturing every rhythm and cadence of description and of the myriad voices with sustained brilliance.’
  16. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 12 October 2021.

External links[edit]