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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Creative Writing Guide: Literary Awards

Introduction

This page lists literary awards and the websites to which these awards are linked. These awards vary widely in subject - ranging from fiction to criticism to poetry - and reading award-winning books can often inspire a creative writer about new directions in which to take his or her work.

You can find more literary award winners through the Library database NoveList. Once you're inside the database, click Award Winners on the right sidebar to be taken to a list of many different awards, including awards for teens' and children's fiction.

Searching for Literary Prizes Online

Tips for Applying for Literary Prizes

Most literary contests provide information about applying and submitting on their websites. Details like the requirements to apply, the money awarded, and any forms required for entry will be outlined on the literary contest website and should therefore be your first stop if you are considering applying for a literary contest. Some links with advice for successfully applying for a literary contest are below.

Select Literary Awards

For an exhaustive list of international literary prizes by country, see Wikipedia's Literary Award Page.

  • Nobel Prize in Literature
    • Years Covered: 1901 to present
    • This site not only lists winners but it also contains biographies, selected bibliographies, photos, Nobel lectures, interviews and articles written by and about Nobel Prize Laureates.
    • Tip: There are also several volumes of the Dictionary of Literary Biography devoted specifically to Nobel Prize laureates. Once you're inside the database, click "Browse Volumes" in the top navigation bar and scroll down the list to "Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature."
  • Pulitzer Prize
    • Years Covered: 1917 to present
    • Award Categories: Biography or Autobiography, Drama, Fiction, History, Nonfiction, and Poetry
    • This sophisticated site offers a searchable database of past winners and nominated finalists. Biographies and photographs of winners are included on the website.
  • Booker Prize for Fiction
    • Years Covered: 1969 to present
    • In addition to listing prize winners (past and present), this site has press releases, author biographies and photos of the latest year's winners.
  • National Book Awards
    • Years Covered: 1950 to present
    • Award Categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Young People's Literature
    • Contains acceptance speeches, selected author study guides (connect to from the "Publications" page), which include essays about and interviews with past National Book winners and finalists.
  • National Book Critics Circle
    • Years Covered: 1981 to present
    • Award Categories: Fiction, General Nonfiction, Biography and Autobiography, Poetry and Criticism
    • Lists past winners and contains synopses of the works of all the winners for the current year.
  • Orange Prize for Fiction
    • Years Covered: 1996 to present
    • This relatively recent literary award honors female writers of fiction. The site includes biographies, reviews and interviews with the winners for the past two years.
  • Costa Book Awards
    • Years Covered: 1971 to present
    • Award Categories: Book of the Year, Children's Book of the Year, Novel, First Novel, Biography and Poetry
    • Formerly called the Whitbread Book Awards. The website for this UK award features an archive of past winners.
  • PEN Literary Awards
    • A series of awards in a number of different categories, ranging from poetry to biography to sports and science writing.

 

Prizes awarded specifically for poetry:

  • Griffin Poetry Prize
    • Years Covered: 2001 to present.
    • A Canadian prize, though awarded also to international poets: the award is given annually to one Canadian poet and one international author of a work in English. Translators of poetry are also eligible.
  • Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition
    • Years Covered: 1919 to present.
    • The famous Yale competition honors the first poetry collection of an American poet: writers submit their manuscripts, and the winning collection is published. Past winners have included John Ashbery, Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, W.S. Merwin, and Robert Hass. The website includes guidelines for submitting manuscripts.
  • Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards
    • Years Covered: 1993 to present.
    • A pair of annual awards: the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award goes to a poet at mid-career, while the Kate Tufts Discovery Award is awarded for a poet's first book.
  • T.S. Eliot Prize
    • Years Covered: 1997 to present.
    • Based out of Truman State University, the T.S. Eliot Prize is awarded annually to new manuscripts of poetry. The website includes guidelines for submitting manuscripts.