**Strictly embargoed until 00.01 GMT Thursday 5th July, 2012**
On Thursday 19th July, the opening night of the 10th Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival a special presentation will be made to the winner of the third Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, which this year is awarded to Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse.
Born in Lincolnshire in 1930, Dexter won a scholarship to the local grammar school and, after completing his National Service, went on to study at Cambridge. Since 1966 he has lived in Oxford with his wife, with whom he has two children. After retiring from a 13-year teaching career, he began writing mysteries in 1973 while on a family holiday. His debut novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, was published in 1975 and introduced the world to Inspector Morse for the first time. One of the most iconic detectives ever to have been created, Morse’s crime-solving talents found a whole new audience in the successful TV series, bringing further acclaim for Dexter. Inspector Morse has appeared in 13 novels and numerous short stories. Dexter has won many awards for his novels, including the CWA Silver Dagger twice and the CWA Gold Dagger for both The Wench is Dead and The Way Through the Woods. In 1997, he was presented with the CWA Diamond Dagger for outstanding services to crime literature and, in 2000, was awarded the OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Dexter said: “Never had I thought that the gods would be kindly enough to give me such a huge honour so late in my life. Yet here I am, in my early eighties, feeling a profound and heartfelt gratitude for the great honour bestowed on me.”
Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston, said:
“The variety of narratives within crime fiction means that every year we have a shortlist that reflects the diversity of the genre; this year, the thriller seems to be the popular choice. It’s great to see crime writing in such rude health, although it doesn’t make the job of picking a winner any easier!
“I’m also delighted and privileged to welcome Colin Dexter to Harrogate to collect his much- deserved Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. Few writers are as prolific as Colin has been over his long and varied career and even fewer create a character as iconic and well-loved as Morse. This award acknowledges Colin’s huge contribution to crime fiction and to British culture.”