A Writer’s Estate to Yield $150,000 Literary PrizesBy CHARLES McGRATH
Yale University is announcing the establishment of some of the most lucrative literary prizes in America.
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The writer Donald Windham, who died last year, in 1991.
- Donald Windham, Novelist and Memoirist, Dies at 89 (June 4, 2010)
Called the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes, they will be given annually starting in late 2012 or early 2013, with seven to nine grants of $150,000 each awarded to playwrights and writers of fiction and nonfiction. Awards for poetry may be added later at the discretion of the awards committee.
The endowment for the prizes comes from the estate of the writer Donald Windham, who died in May 2010. Eugene V. Kokot, a co-executor of the estate, said that while Mr. Windham’s will was quite specific about his intention to establish a fund for literary prizes, the details of how such prizes should be awarded had been worked out by the executors and advisers at Yale.
“I don’t know for sure if these are the biggest prizes in America, but Donald would be happy to think that they were,” he added.
By comparison, the Bollingen Prize, a biannual poetry award also administered by Yale, pays its winner $100,000, as does the annual Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. The Pulitzer Prizes and the National Book Awards are each worth $10,000. Overseas, the Man Booker Prize in Britain comes with an award of roughly $80,000, while the Impac Dublin Literary Award is about $140,000.
The judging for the new prizes will happen in two stages, Mr. Kokot explained: a steering committee will solicit recommendations from a group of nominators, and the final selection will be made by a panel consisting of Mr. Kokot; Jeffrey Peabody, his co-executor; and two longtime friends of Mr. Windham, Robert A, Wilson, a rare-book dealer, and Bruce Kellner, a retired English professor. They will be aided by a group of additional judges.