Pulitzer Prize (Arkansas Recipients and Nominees)

The Pulitzer Prize is awarded annually in American journalism, literature, and music composition. It was named for newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer and has been awarded since 1917. Prizes are given from twenty-one possible categories, but not all categories are awarded every year. Winning comes with considerable prestige as well as a $10,000 prize for twenty of the categories and a gold medal for the Public Service category in journalism. There is a $50 entry fee, and works may be entered in up to two categories for consideration. The nominees are selected by 102 judges serving on twenty juries who select three nominees per category. The judges and the final winners are chosen by the Pulitzer Prize Board.

Aside from prize winners and nominees (listed in the tables below), a few additional Arkansans or other Arkansas-related works have connections to the Pulitzers. William F. McIlwain, who was editor of the Arkansas Gazette, was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board from 1981 to 1982. Little Rock (Pulaski County) journalist and author Paul Greenberg served as a jurist from 1984 to 1985 (and was also a finalist in 1986). Maria Henson served as a jurist in 1994, 1995, and 2000 and the chair jurist in 1999 after her win in 1992.

There are a few other loose Pulitzer connections to the state. Albert Paine, author of The Arkansaw Bear: A Tale of Fanciful Adventure, served on Pulitzer Prize committees for many years. Marc Connelly won the 1930 Pulitzer for drama with his play Green Pastures, based on the 1928 novel Ol’ Man Adam an’ His Chillun by Roark Bradford, who briefly lived near Cabot (Lonoke County). Famed author Ernest Hemingway lived in Piggott (Clay County) with his wife Pauline Pfeiffer in the late 1920s, working on A Farewell to Arms in a small barn on the property of what is now the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum; he won the Pulitzer in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea.

Arkansas-Connected Winners (by year)

Stanley Powers Roland Thomas

1922 public service, exposing the operations of the KKK (New York World team led by Thomas)

John Gould Fletcher

1939 poetry Selected Poems

Ernest Hemingway

1953 fiction The Old Man and the Sea

Arkansas Gazette

1958 public service, coverage of 1957–58 Central High crisis (see Hugh Baskin Patterson Jr., John Netherland Heiskell)

Harry Ashmore

1958 editorial writing in the Arkansas Gazette

Vance Trimble

1960 national reporting on nepotism in Congress via the Scripps-Howard Newspaper Alliance

Paul Greenberg

1969 editorial writing on race relations in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)

Scott Joplin

1976 music (posthumous special award)

C. Vann Woodward

1982 history, Mary Chestnut’s Civil War

Mary Ann Gwinn

1990 national reporting, coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and its aftermath (The Seattle Times team)

Maria Henson

1992 editorial writing, for her editorials about battered women in Kentucky (Lexington Herald-Leader)

David Levering Lewis

1994 biography W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race (1868–1919)

Richard Ford

1996 fiction Independence Day

David Auburn

2001 drama Proof

David Levering Lewis

2001 biography W. E. B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century (1919–1963)

Douglas Blackmon

2009 general nonfiction Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II


Arkansas-Connected Nominees and Finalists (by year)

Esther Bindursky

1955 nominee for photography

Will Counts

1958 nominee for photography in the Arkansas Democrat

Maya Angelou

1972 nominee for poetry Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie

Barney Sellers

1973 nominee for photography

Tom Dearmore

1980 finalist

Ray Moseley

1981 finalist for a series of articles about Africa

Paul Greenberg

1986 finalist

Gregg Jones

1992 finalist for beat reporting in the Arkansas Gazette

Jack Butler

1993 nominee for fiction Living in Little Rock with Miss Little Rock

Mars Andrew Hill III

1998 nominee The Moaner’s Bench

Jonesboro Sun

1999 finalist for breaking news reporting, coverage of the Westside school shooting


For additional information:
Arkansas Pulitzer Prize Authors. http://www.butlercenter.org/education/arkansas-pulitzer-prize-authors.html (accessed January 11, 2018).

The Pulitzer Prizes http://www.pulitzer.org/ (accessed January 11, 2018).

J. Jobe
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

Last Updated 1/11/2019