Booker Prize winner awarded Honorary Degree



Booker Prize Winner Douglas Stuart collected his Honorary Degree from Heriot-Watt University today.

The celebrated author returned to his alma mater where the Chancellor of University, Professor Sir Geoff Palmer, presented him with the academic title of Doctor of the University. Douglas was selected for the honour in recognition of his successful career in fashion, an industry he entered after leaving Heriot-Watt, and for his immense contribution to literature.

The Glaswegian graduated from the University with a BA Honours in Textiles in 1998 and was awarded the coveted Watt Club Medal for his academic achievement. After his studies, Douglas moved to New York where he worked as a Senior designer for Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, before becoming the Head of Design at Gap Inc and then later at Kate Spade.

In August 2020, he released his best-selling debut novel, Shuggie Bain, and went onto become only the second Scot to be named the Booker Prize winner later that year. Shuggie Bain has been a finalist for over twenty international literary awards, including the National Book Award, The Pen Hemingway Award, The Orwell Prize and the Andrew Carnegie Medal and will see the Scots vernacular translated into 39 languages. His next novel, Young Mungo, will be published in April 2022.

After receiving his Honorary Degree in front of friends and family, Douglas said: “I am truly humbled to receive this recognition today. Higher education transformed everything for me. It opened up possibilities that I would never have dreamt were possible. My time studying at the Galashiels campus gave me all the skills I carry with me in life, and allowed me to express myself in not one, but two creative fields. I will be forever grateful to the educators at Heriot Watt who noticed my potential, who believed in me when I didn't always believe in myself, and who guided me onwards when I was unsure of the path before me." 

Douglas is one of seven distinguished recipients who were presented with an honorary degree this week as part of the University’s Winter graduation ceremonies held at its Edinburgh campus. They represent the world of business, academia, enterprise and science. 

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard A. Williams, shared his congratulations with Douglas, saying: “Douglas has carved out an incredibly successful career in both fashion and literature and I’m sure many more of his achievements are still to come. It is a privilege to welcome him back to the University and to present him with his honorary degree, which he richly deserves.

“Douglas is currently one of the largest literary figures in the UK and I know, holds a great deal of affection for this University. He has and remains a champion for student achievement and in the transformational impact of education, beliefs which are shared by this University.”  

A total of 12 graduation ceremonies are being held at the University between December 4 and 10 marking the academic achievement of students from the School of Social Sciences, the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society, the School of Textiles & Design, and the School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences.


Craig McManamon