What are the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes?

The Windham-Campbell prizes are global English-language awards that call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. Prizewinners receive an unrestricted grant of $165,000.

What are the selection criteria?

The prizes are open to English-language writers at all stages of their careers from anywhere in the world, so long as they have one published book or one professionally produced play to their credit. Writers can be nominated for a body of work or for outstanding promise.

How do I apply for the prize?

Individuals do not apply. Awards are made by nomination only.

How do writers get nominated?

In order to create a manageable pool of nominees, we consider only writers who have been nominated by an invited group of nominators. We invite sixty new nominators each year. Applications and unsolicited nominations are not accepted.

Who are the nominators?

Nominators are selected for their experience in the literary field. They may be writers, academics, critics, librarians, booksellers, editors, theater producers and directors, and others whose recognized expertise represents the breadth and depth and excellence of literary production in the English-speaking world.

How many writers are nominated each year?

We invite fifteen nominators in each category to make two nominations each, for a total of thirty nominations per category and about one hundred and twenty overall. Depending on many variables, these numbers vary slightly year-to-year and within each category.

Do writers know if they have been nominated?

We do not communicate this information to writers and we ask nominators to refrain from doing so.

What happens once a writer has been nominated?

When we receive the nomination letters, we create dossiers on nominees and mail them to the prize juries in each category.

How many jurors are there in each category?

There are three jurors per category.

What do the juries do?

Individual jurors examine the dossiers, read exemplary works, and conduct independent research on nominees. The jury convenes at Yale in the fall with the purpose of reducing the initial list from thirty names to four in each category. The names of the finalists are then submitted to the prize selection committee, along with a support statement from the jury that is added to the dossier.

Who is on the jury?

The jury is composed of three experts in the field. Jurors are selected using the same criteria as the nominators.

Are names of finalists made public?

Only the names of the prize recipients are made public.

Why is the nomination process confidential?

Our aim is to safeguard the integrity of the prizes by selecting prize recipients solely on the merits of their work. Confidentiality reduces outside influence on the process, creating an atmosphere in which nominators and jurors feel comfortable speaking freely and honestly about writers and their work.

Who is on the selection committee and what do they do?

The committee consists of nine individuals. Donald Windham named two lifetime members in his will. The President of Yale appoints the other seven. These include two Yale professors and five committee members from outside the University, including the committee chair. The selection committee is charged with choosing two winners per category from the finalists submitted by the prize juries.

How many prizes are awarded each year?

Eight prizes are available each year.

Is anything required of the prizewinners?

Winners are required to accept the prize in person and participate in a multi-day campus literary festival surrounding the prize ceremony. There are no other requirements.

Can anyone attend the prize ceremony and literary festival?

All events are free and open to the public. Information on all events is available in the festival calendar section of the website.

How are the prizes funded?

Donald Windham, who inherited his fortune from Sandy Campbell, left his estate to Yale University to establish the Windham-Campbell Prizes endowment. Interest earned on the endowment principal funds all aspects of the prizes, including administration, marketing, the prize ceremony and festival, and, of course, the prize money.

Who administers the Prizes? Where is the office?

The Prizes are administered by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, and our offices are located in the historic Gordon Bunshaft-designed building on Hewitt Quadrangle. The Beinecke is also home to the Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell Collections, which consist of more than eighty boxes of manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and artworks.