New Year Honours List 2019

Authors Margaret Atwood and Philip Pullman are two of many genre figures on the United Kingdom’s New Year Honours List for 2019 [PDF file] published December 28.

There is also Michael Palin, launched to fame with the Monty Python troupe; Christopher Nolan, director of numerous sff films like Inception, The Dark Knight, and Interstellar (though I expect 2017’s WWII historical Dunkirk had something to do with the honor); Thandie Newton, whose latest hit is Westworlds; and Sophie Okonedo, an actress with many Doctor Who credits, along with film appearances in Aeon Flux and Martian Child.



Michael Edward PALIN CBE FRGS, Comedian, Actor, Writer and Television Presenter. For services to travel, culture and geography

Knights Bachelor

Philip Nicholas Outram PULLMAN CBE, Author. For services to Literature.


Dr Margaret Eleanor ATWOOD, Canadian Author. For services to literature



Christopher Edward NOLAN, Director and Filmmaker. For services to film


Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Melanie Thandiwe NEWTON Actress. For services to Film and charity. (Thandie Newton)

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Sophie OKONEDO OBE Actress. For services to Drama.

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15 thoughts on “New Year Honours List 2019

  1. Heather Rose Jones: I wouldn’t be surprised. The new WordPress 5.0 release has either deleted or hidden somewhere I have yet to rediscover the tools I used to have for fine-tuning what they call a “gallery” — used to present images side-by-side, etc. So I couldn’t adjust the dimensions of these pictures. They looked fine on my screen — but I don’t think too many of you are going to run out and buy a new computer so we’ll all have the same screen….

  2. I am delighted to learn that Michael Palin is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.

  3. @Heather Rose Jones
    I’m not seeing that. (That’s an interesting doorway Pullman is standing in front of. “Bodleian Library Old School of Medicine”?)

  4. Could someone explain or point me to a quick explanation of the levels or degrees of those different honors? Specifically at which point someone starts being called Sir or Dame?

  5. Mike – my apologies – it was indeed the Q’s Birthday Honours List. I blame the BBC, which illustrious organisation included her in their report of the New Year’s Honours. But my memory and fact-checking nodes let me down.

  6. How does Margaret Atwood get a British title? I thought Canadians weren’t allowed to accept British honors!

  7. Owen Whiteoak: No problem, and there may still be something I missed… I only had three names when I started working on the post, and doubts about one of them. While there is more than one government document available online to consult, where I started, one of those names isn’t on the long list, but shows up on another short list. While scrounging around the media for more hints I found the other names I ran in the item.

  8. @cmm: (from pieces of Wikipedia I’ve periodically poked through in my own puzzlement; my assumption is that there are enough people Very Serious about this that inaccuracies would be stomped on. They’re good about connecting initials to extensive articles, so finding data isn’t hard.) Some of the orders have 5 levels, in which the names identify who is a knight/dame; e.g., {Member, Officer, Commander, Knight/Dame Commander, Knight/Dame Grand Cross} of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Others are more compressed but still clear, e.g. Michael & George has Companion and 2 levels of Knight while Garter and Bath (as I read) are all Knights/Dames. AFAICT, the Sir/Dame prenomen (if it’s omitted) can be inferred from the initial K/D in the alphabet soup after the name — although there are also Knights Bachelor (e.g., Pratchett and Pullman) who are Sir Xyz but not as part of an order and so don’t get the initials (although both have previous awards they’re entitled to append to their names). Who gets what is a judgment call that probably has a number of full-time disputants; e.g., despite obvious-to-viewers cause, the protagonist of The King’s Speech never achieved his desire to be called Sir.

    @Martin Wooster: Atwood has entered an order with a large number of non-UK Commonwealth members, although the Wikipedia listing also cites some UK citizens (subjects?).

  9. Martin – Companion of Honour is allowed for non-Brits. In much the same way that an Irishman like Bob Geldoff can receive a knighthood but is NOT to be addressed as “Sir Bob”. On pain of being looked down the nose at. Hey, I didn’t make the rules.

    Cmm – A (British) knight or baronet is addressed as “Sir”. Dame is the female equivalent. The knight / dame titles are not inherited and cease on death. Baronetcy is a hereditary knighthood. These remain commoners, however – none is a peer of the realm (of noble rank). Honours like OBE, CBE, KBE etc. go after the name, like academic titles.

    The rundown of peerages (probably incomplete and inaccurate) goes

    (Royal Family) –
    Sovereign – King / Queen or Queen / Prince Consort;
    princes and princesses are usually also given duchies, to become Royal Dukes and Duchesses

    non-Royal Duke / Duchess

    Marquess (Marquis or Margrave) / Marchioness

    Earl / Countess (Earl is a similar rank to a European Count; Thane in Anglo-Saxon England and in ancient Scotland)

    Viscount / Countess

    Baron / Baroness

    As Lady Macbeth so memorably said: “I’m afraid His Grace seems to be having one of his funny turns. Stand not on the order of your going, but just fuck off, will you?”
    (not aimed at anyone on this board – I’m only quoting the reports).

  10. Expanding on Owen’s list a bit, hereditary peerages are no longer awarded except in very special cases. The last I can remember was George Thomas who became Viscount Tonypandy when he retired as Speaker of the House of Commons, he was unlikely to produce an heir and the title died with him.

    Barons and Baronesses these days are Life Peers, they get a seat in the Lords for life but the titles are not inherited.

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