Yale to launch $150,000 writing award


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Yale has announced that it will present a new award to creative writers, the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes. With a one-time award of $150,000, the prizes will be among the most significant offered for creative writing.

The MacArthur Fellowships, commonly known as ‘Genius’ grants, are for a greater amount -- $500,000 -- but are paid out in installments over a five-year period.


The N.Y. Times reports that Windham, who died in 2010, lived modestly but left an estate significant enough to fund about a million dollars in grants each year. Seven to nine creative writing grants will be awarded annually, to writers of fiction, nonfiction and plays (poetry may be included later).

There will not be an open application process for the awards, which are intended to go to both emerging and established writers. A steering committee will solicit nominations, and a panel of judges will select the winners. Windham, who was born in Atlanta and never attended college, requested that those judging the prizes consider writers with no academic affiliation.

Windham’s affiliation with Yale was fostered by a gift he made to the university of his collected papers. Although he wrote fiction and collaborated with Tennessee Williams, his memoirs of the New York literati may be his most lasting work -- particularly ‘Lost Friendships: Memoir of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams & Others.’

Like Williams and Capote, Windham was gay. He and his partner Sandy M. Campbell, for whom the prize is also named, were together for 45 years; Campbell died in 1988.

Yale expects that the first Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes will be announced in late 2012 or early 2013.

-- Carolyn Kellogg