Pulitzer Prizes Announced, But Not Everyone Has Always Wanted One

Today, the 2010 Pulitzer Prizes were announced and you can find a complete list of winners on the Pulitzer website.

While authors, cartoonists, and photographers must apply for the prize nowadays, that wasn’t always the case. In 1940, Armenian-American writer William Saroyan turned down the prize for his play The Time of Your Life (1939) and made the following declaration: “I do not believe in prizes or award in the realm of art and have always been particularly opposed to material or official patronage of the arts by government, organization or individual, a naive and innocent style of behavior which nevertheless, I believe, vitiates and embarasses art at its source.” (via St. Petersburg Times, May 8, 1940)

The Pulitzer website does not mention this episode under the Award Controversies section of their site. It’s worth nothing that the same year Saroyan did accept the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for his play.

NOTE: I’m looking for a reference for the date when Pulitzer changed its application policy but I haven’t found it yet. If anyone knows where I can find it, please let me know.

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