Yale Launches Literary Prize Program

by David Brensilver | Jun 22, 2011 2:28 pm

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Karl Bissinger PhotoThanks to a bequest from the late American literary figure Donald Windham, Yale University will, on an annual basis, award more than half a dozen writers enough money to take a year off to pursue their craft.

Yale University President Richard Levin announced the “establishment of The Donald Windham—Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes,” which “will award seven to nine $150,000 prizes annually, in fiction and non-fiction categories.”

“Windham wished to ensure that the prizes would be substantial enough to enable each recipient to spend a full year writing, unencumbered by financial concerns,” according to a university-issued press release.

Levin was quoted in the press release as saying: “It is our hope and expectation that the prizes, together with the collection of the author’s papers that are already a treasured part of Yale’s Beinecke Library holdings, will draw deserved attention to Donald Windham’s literary accomplishments and preserve them for years to come.”

In 1989, Windham, who died last year, gave the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library a collection of papers. Per his will, the library will receive the balance of Windham’s “literary estate.”

Windham, whose memoirs are considered by many the most popular of his writings, was known just as much for the friendships he maintained with Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams. Yale’s press release described The Donald Windham—Sandy Campbell Collection (at the Beinecke) as “a rich and diverse trove of correspondence between Windham and Campbell and (Tennessee) Williams, Forster, Capote, and Isherwood, as well as other notable writers such as Carson McCullers, Marianne Moore, Graham Greene, Isak Dinesen and Paul Bowles.”

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