The Pulitzer Prizes

Being awarded a Pulitzer Prize is a crowning achievement in the career of a journalist, writer, or musician. But how did this award come to be, and what, exactly, does it represent?

Born in Hungary in 1847, Joseph Pulitzer, opens a new window made his way as a young man to the United States by way of military service as a substitute for a draftee in the Union Army. After his service, he gradually made his way to St. Louis, where he happened one day upon two newspaper editors playing a game of chess in the Mercantile Library. They struck up a conversation, and the 21-year-old Pulitzer was offered a job, launching his influential career in journalism.

Ever ambitious, Pulitzer was a newspaper publisher by the age of 25 and the owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by 31. In the decade that followed, Pulitzer proved himself to be devoted to journalism, spending long hours at work and focusing on revealing corruption among political and societal figures. He expanded his empire by purchasing The New York World in 1883. The 1890s saw Pulitzer embroiled in a contentious conflict with William Randolph Hearst, the owner of the New York Journal, as their papers engaged in yellow journalism in an attempt to outdo each other and drive up their respective circulation numbers. Their sensational and emotional coverage of Spain's rule over Cuba had some measure of influence on public and political sentiment in the United States, and both publishers vocally supported the United States' declaration of war on Spain following an attack on a U.S. battleship in Havana Harbor. Once the conflict was over, Pulitzer and his paper retreated from yellow journalism and sought to produce more thoughtful and upstanding coverage of government and business corruption.

Pulitzer's health declined throughout the 1890s and 1900s, leading to his withdrawal from oversight responsibilities at his newspaper. He died on his yacht in 1911. A year later, thanks to a $2,000,000 bequest, opens a new window Pulitzer included in his will, Columbia University established its Graduate School of Journalism. His will also provided for the creation of scholarships and the Pulitzer Prize, opens a new window to incentivize excellence in journalism, literature, drama, and music. The first Pulitzer Prizes went out on June 4, 1917.

Today, Pulitzer Prizes, opens a new window are awarded in several categories within these disciplines. Seventeen Pulitzer Prizes for Journalism are awarded for excellence in such areas as breaking news reporting, local news reporting, editorial reporting, feature photography, and audio reporting. Pulitzer Prizes for Letters, Drama, & Music are given in the categories of fiction, drama, history, biography, poetry, general nonfiction, and music. There is also a Special Citations and Awards category. Prize recipients in 21 of the 22 categories receive a cash award of $15,000 and a certificate. The Public Service in Journalism Prize is a gold medal, and it always goes to a news organization, never an individual.

You can find many winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the St. Tammany Parish Library collection. Take a look below at just some of the titles we have!

Pulitzer Prize Winners

List created by STPLReferenceCovington

The Pulitzer Prize is among the most prestigious awards given to writers and artists across a variety of disciplines. Take a look below at just some of the winners available at the St. Tammany Parish Library! Please Note: In order to bring you new and interesting titles, Hoopla content is updated monthly, and these titles may not be available in the future. To find the latest titles, please visit

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