header login

PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000)

The PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award celebrates writing that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of physical and biological sciences. The winner receives a cash award of $10,000 and will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards.

The PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award was founded by scientist and author Dr. Edward O. Wilson, activist and actor Harrison Ford, and the E. O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. The award is also supoprted by James and Cathy Stone. The inaugural award was conferred in 2011. 

Examples of published works that exemplify the quality of writing the award is designed to acknowledge include Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring (1962), Dr. James Watson’s The Double Helix (1969), Lewis Thomas's The Lives of a Cell (1978), and Douglas Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979).

Past winners: Siddhartha Mukherjee, James Gleick, Leonard Mlodinow, and Dr. Carl Hart.

Eligibility and Submissions for the 2016 Awards

Please check back in mid-2015 for submission details for the 2016 award. 

Who Is Eligible
  • PEN will only accept submissions from publishers, editors or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award. 
  • One need not be a Member of PEN to submit
  • Eligible titles must have been published between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.
  • Authors of the work must be permanent U.S. residents or American citizens.
  • Anthologies are not accepted.
  • There are no restrictions on the candidate’s age.
  • Self-published books are not eligible. 
If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN American Center awards. 
How to apply
1. Please download the award's Declaration of Eligibility here. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign in order to confirm the book's eligibility. If eligible, please mail this form along with one copy of the book to PEN's office (see step 3).
2. Complete the awards online submission form hereEach submission is $50. If you would like to pay by check, please enter CHECK in the coupon code field at checkout. Be sure to print your receipt. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.
3. Mail one copy of the candidate's book accompanied by the printed receipt to the address below between September 1, 2015 and November 14, 2015. Please note that we also accept galleys.
PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award 
PEN American Center 
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012
4. Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN, you will be contacted by awards@pen.org by the end of the year and asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our three awards judges. Please add awards@pen.org to your safe sender list.
Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $4 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press' annual net sales are less than $4 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to awards@pen.org. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at check-out in order to have your submission fees waived.