Deborah Friedell ’03 has been awarded the Marshall Scholarship and plans to use the fellowship, one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships, to study English literature at Oxford University next year.
The only Yale student or recent graduate to win the Marshall this year, Friedell, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University, currently works in Washington, D.C., as an assistant literary editor of The New Republic. She is among 43 students and recent graduates across the country to win the Marshall and was selected from a pool of nearly 900 applicants.
Friedell said Monday night that she was thrilled to win the scholarship, and even more excited to study literature in Britain.
“So many of the books I write about in reviews are either by British writers, or take place in Britain,” Friedell said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself in British culture.”
At Yale, she contributed to the Yale Review of Books and the Yale Daily News Magazine. Her literary criticism earned her the McLaughlin Prize and the Curtis Prize, and she received the Willets Prize and first place in the Wallace Prize competition for her fiction writing.
“I was always writing,” she said. “It was always gratifying that my teachers in college took my work very seriously and would always comment extensively on my prose.”
English professor David Bromwich, who taught Friedell in seminars on nonfiction writing and British culture, praised her accomplishments.
“Deborah Friedell is a scholar and aesthete, one who pursues the art in a serious way,” Bromwich said. “She has a natural inquisitiveness, wit and a passion for learning.”
Since her graduation, Friedell has worked for The New Republic, and her writing also has appeared in The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The New York Times Book Review and Salon.com. Friedell said her editor at The New Republic, Leon Wieseltier, pushed her to apply for the Marshall.
“[Wieseltier] helped at every stage of the competition,” Friedell said. “No one has ever worked so hard to get rid of me.”
Terri Evans, the Boston-based public relations officer for the British Consulate-General, which administers the Marshall, said Friedell was a talented candidate for the scholarship.
“What set Deborah apart was her capacity to use her gift of language to speak to a larger audience,” Evans said. “The program looks for someone who is an agent of change in the larger world, in the sciences, in public policy and in the arts.”
The Marshall Scholarship was established in 1953 as a British gesture of appreciation to the United States for the military and economic assistance received following World War II under the Marshall Plan. Worth about $60,000 each and financed by the British government, the scholarships allow American students to continue their academic studies for two to three years at the British university of their choice.
Past winners include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and noted electronics inventor Ray Dolby, who transformed movie sound systems.
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