What is the Pulitzer Prize and for what it is awarded. Famous Pulitzer Prize Winners


Today the Pulitzer Prize is one of the most famous and, as a result, the prestigious world awards in journalism, photojournalism, music, literature and theatrical art. It was approved on the seventeenth of August 1903 by Joseph Pulitzer, who was a well-known American publisher and journalist, whose name is still associated with the emergence of the yellow press genre.


Joseph Pulitzer was born in April 1847 in Hungary. Emigrating to the United States at seventeen, in 1878, he bought up two famous American newspapers, St. Louis Dispatch and St. Louis Post, and formed a new periodical, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Convinced of the power of the press over human minds, Pulitzer uses his publication to publish the most controversial and controversial articles criticizing the actions of the authorities. Soon its publication becomes one of the most profitable and influential in the western United States. In 1883, he buys New York World and turns it into a popular newspaper full of political news, supplemented with comics and illustrations. At the profit received from the publication of newspapers, Joseph Pulitzer creates the Faculty of Journalism and establishes the famous prize.

Traditionally, the Pulitzer Prize is awarded on the first Monday of May by members of the Columbia University of the USA for outstanding achievements in literature and journalism. The size of the prize for most nominations is ten thousand dollars. Separately, the category “For service to society” is noted, the winner of which receives not only a monetary reward, but also a gold medal “For a worthy service to society”.

In total, there are currently about 25 different nominations, among which 14 are directly related to journalism. Every year, literary awards in six nominations are particularly noteworthy: “For an artistic book written by an American writer on America”, “For a biography or autobiography of an American author”, “For a book on US history”, “For the best drama”, “For a poem” and "For non-fiction literature." According to historical summaries, the Pulitzer Prize (books) was not awarded ten times, as the jury of the competition could not identify a single literary work worthy of award.

Appearance history

As mentioned earlier, the Pulitzer Prize came into being in 1903, when the testament of Joseph Pulitzer was made. It was first presented in 1917. According to an agreement between Columbia University (under the auspices of the Faculty of Journalism of which the award is presented annually) and Pulitzer, the cash part of the award is the annual income that the Pulitzer Foundation, which is formed by a two-million donation to the university, brings. Thus, the annual prize money fund is about 550 thousand dollars. In addition to the donations of the merchant himself, in 1970 another fund was created, which attracts additional funds to pay this prestigious award.


The number of nominations and awards also increases over time. So, in 1922, the prize for the best caricature first appeared, and in 1942, the award for the best photo was awarded for the first time. A little later there were nominations for the best musical compositions and theatrical performances. In addition, since May 2006, not only paper but also electronic works have been considered among applicants for the Pulitzer Prize.

Competition Jury

The Pulitzer Prize is awarded by the Board of Trustees of Columbia University on the basis of the activities of the Advisory Board. This body belongs to the decisive vote in determining the winners. Advisory Board members develop award criteria.

Initially, the council consisted of only thirteen participants, but by mid-1990 there were already seventeen people. Today, the Pulitzer Committee includes 19 experts, among which there is a prize administrator, five well-known publishers, one columnist, six editors and six scientists.

The activities of the competition award committee are constantly criticized by the public. Each year, the jury receives many accusations of bias and subjectivity in the award of an honorary award. However, according to the will of the creator of the Pulitzer Prize, it is impossible to change the order of this procedure.

Prize award process

According to the statute of the award, to obtain a nomination in the field of journalism, you must submit the material in paper form no later than the first of February of this year. For literary works, the last date is considered the first of July last year for books published from January to June; and the first of November for books released from July to December.


Interestingly, journalism nominations can be submitted on behalf of any person throughout the premium period. The main thing is that the proposal be provided with copies of documents confirming the candidate's right to receive the prize. With regard to literature, the Council should provide four copies of the book nominated for the nomination for review. A similar procedure is used in the evaluation and many literary prizes of Russia. But musical and dramatic works can be nominated for an award no later than the first of March of the current year, and only on the condition that all members of the jury are familiar with their public performance.

Awards award decisions are made by specially appointed university for each category of the jury. Each jury must compile a list of three candidates and hand it over to the Pulitzer Prize Council. The Council, in turn, examines all the materials submitted to it, including written sources, recommendations and works of nominees, and after that sends its own references for approval to the board of trustees of Columbia University. The trustees receive the Board’s choice and promptly announce the names of the winners, without waiting for an official award ceremony. Note that neither the trustees nor the jury members can influence the choice of the Board. Its members decide on awarding any nominee regardless of the recommendations of the jury. At the same time, none of the trustees, members of the jury or the Council shall have the right to participate in the discussion or voting if the award presented by them affects their personal interests. Membership in the Council is limited to three terms of 3 years each, and vacancies are filled by private ballot, in which all current members of the Council are required to take part.

The most famous Pulitzer Prize winners

Since the time of this award, many writers and journalists have become its laureates, among whom were both well-known and unrecognized authors. The very first winner of the award was the American journalist Herbert Bayard, who was awarded such a prestigious prize for a series of articles under the general title “From within the German Empire”.

Over the years, such works as Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird were awarded with a literary prize. At the same time, most of the books that won the Pulitzer Prize have never been among the bestsellers, just as the award winning theater plays have never been staged on broad stages.


As for the foreign winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the first such nominee was the Russian journalist Artem Borovik with his report "Room 19" about the activities of the Brain Institute. Also in April 2011, the prize was presented to Anna Politkovskaya for a detailed chronicle of the war in the Chechen Republic. Another Russian journalist, Alexander Zemlyanichenko, twice won the prize for his reports on the 1991 putsch in Moscow and the photograph of Boris Yeltsin.

Pulitzer Prize for literature. The main features of the award

As noted earlier, the Pulitzer Prize for literature, in contrast to the winners in other categories, are not always well-known and universally recognized writers. And although the jury is often accused of incompetence and fraud. This is largely due to the fact that its members strictly follow the rules made by Joseph Pulitzer himself, according to which this award, like some Russian literary awards, is awarded only to those writers who have dedicated their books to life and history of the United States.

Often, works that are honored with rewards have a low literary value, but accurately and reliably describe life in the outback or tell, for example, about the personal problems of American teenagers. That is why these literary awards are not divided by genre, but by time principle. Each year, the jury selects several papers that best describe the present and past of the United States.

Recognition of the merits of journalists

The Pulitzer Prize for Journalism is the most important and prestigious award for American periodicals. It includes many nominations, which assess both speed and accuracy in covering events, and the personal contribution of journalists to their work. Interestingly, in this case, not only individuals, but also entire publications become laureates of the award.


This is perhaps the most predictable Pulitzer Prize. The winners in this case are always known in advance, and it is not difficult to predict the results of the vote. At the same time, this nomination is also considered the most placid in terms of high-profile scandals and accusations. Most critics agree that all the laureates of this prize received their awards deservedly and legally.

Music and theater

In the field of music, the Pulitzer Prize is awarded in the amount of three thousand dollars. She is awarded for outstanding work of an American composer, created in any major form. These are any orchestral, choral and chamber works, operas and other compositions.

In addition to the music award, there are special scholarships in the amount of five thousand dollars, which are awarded to outstanding graduates of the faculty of journalism who have expressed a desire to specialize in the field of music, theater, film and television or literary criticism.

Pulitzer theater awards have a prize fund of three thousand dollars. They are awarded both to venerable, well-known directors, and very young directors who work on plays in diverse genres. As in the case of literature, many works that have received recognition from the high jury have never been shown to the general public and have never been put on Broadway.

Reward for shooting

Pulitzer Prize is deservedly considered one of the most desired for the photographer. For many, it means much more than a simple monetary reward. It is a recognition of their merits, the value of daily work. At the same time, there are still disputes around this nomination. Public opinion is extremely controversial, and many people are not sure whether this Pulitzer Prize is necessary at all. Photos, which she is awarded, often overstep the boundaries of ordinary art. Most of the works are devoted to either little-known or already nagging problems. Professionals exhibit personal dramas and broken fates of people. Therefore, most of the photos left after viewing heavy sediment.


Often, not only the work is criticized, but also the photographers themselves. They are accused of shooting horrific events instead of helping people in distress. So, for example, Kevin Kartar, who received an award for a series of photos of “Hunger in Sudan”, depicting a girl weakened by hunger and a huge condor waiting for her death, committed suicide only two months after the award ceremony.

Prize winners in 2014

On April 14, 2014, the results were announced and the names of the holders of the next Pulitzer Prize were announced. So, the winner of the prize in literature was Donna Tartt and her novel The Goldfinch, telling the story of a fourteen-year-old boy wandering around Manhattan after the death of his matter. This work also became the first in the list of the hundred best books of the year, according to data from the Amazon online store at the end of 2013.

Annie Baker won the Theater Award for her play “Flick” presented in the Dramatic Piece category. In the Music nomination, the award was awarded to John Luther Adams for the song “To Become an Ocean”.


As for journalism, in the Public Service category, the award went to the Guardian and the Washington Post, which conducted investigations into the activities of the US National Security Agency based on documents provided by Edward Snowden. In the “Sensational Material” nomination, journalists from another American edition (“Boston Globe”) won, who covered the explosions and search actions during the Boston Marathon. The best international reports were recognized by the work of journalists Reuters, telling about the persecution of Muslim communities in Myanmar and the slave trade.

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