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Photograph from Wikipedia Commons
The Pulitzer Prizes were established in 1917 as a result of a provision made in the will of Joseph Pulitzer, newspaper publisher of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The bulk of the prizes awarded were in journalism, no surprise considering Putlizer's life work. However, he also made provisions for arts and letters with the establishment of prizes to be awarded to an American novel, an original American play (performed in New York of course), a history of the United States, and an American biography. A Board was also established and charged with selection - as well as rejection any year they felt that standards weren't met.
The American novel award name was changed to fiction, and later awards introduced poetry, music, and photography. In 1980 finalists were also named and range each year from 1-3 titles, even in years when no award was given.
To read more about the Pulitzer Prizes, including lists of past winners in all categories, visit their official web site at www.pulitzer.org/.
Interesting Facts about Joseph Pulitzer
- Joseph Pulitzer was born in Makó, Hungary in 1847
- Left Hungary at the age of 17 and eventually joined the Union Army during the Civil War
- He spoke little English and learned it by immersing himself in the St. Louis Mercantile Library, studying English and the law.
- At age 25 he became a newspaper publisher, eventually owning the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- He married Kate Davis in 1878.
- In 1883 he bought The New York World newspaper.
- He was a hard worker, but eventually it resulted in him retiring from journalism due to poor eyesight (he was very nearly blind) and other physical maladies
- He was an archrival of William Randolph Hearst, especially The World versus Hearst's newspaper The New York Journal - and through this rivalry "yellow journalism" was born.
- May of 1904 he proposed a School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York. It was officially founded in 1912, a year after Pulitzer's death.
- 1911 - Pulitzer dies aboard his yacht in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
- 1917 - the Pulitzer Prizes are awarded for the first time.