British author Karen Armstrong has been awarded Spain’s Princesa de Asturias prize for Social Sciences for her books on comparative religion.
The 72-year-old writer, who was born in Worcestershire in 1944, expressed her “deep gratitude” for having received the award which was won by Mary Beard, another British woman, last year .
Armstrong combined being a Roman Catholic religious sister at the Society of the Holy Child Jesus convent with studying English at St Anne’s College at the University of Oxford when she was just 18 years old.
She left her religious life behind seven years later after becoming disillusioned with the convent, and after obtaining a first-class degree in contemporary literature, she taught English at James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich in South London.
Her career as an independent writer began in 1982 and has seen her investigate the evolution of the three major monotheistic traditions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam, while she also presented a documentary on St Paul on Channel Four in 1983.