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PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000)

The PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography is awarded for excellence in the art of biography. This prize of $5,000 will go to the author of a distinguished work published in the United States during the previous calendar year. The winning title should be a work of exceptional literary, narrative and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research.

Past winners: Janet Malcom, Richard Brody, Michael Scammell, Stacy Schiff, Robert K. Massie, Tom Reiss, and Linda Leavell.

Eligibility and Submissions for the 2015 Awards

Submissions are now closed. This award will be offered again in 2016. Please check back in mid-2015 for submissions instructions for the 2016 award.

Who is eligible 

  • A candidate’s book of nonfiction must have been published in the United States between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014.
  • Books must be works by an author about another figure; neither memoir nor autobiography is eligible.
  • Candidates need not be U.S. residents.
  • PEN will only accept submissions from publishers, editors, and agents. 
  • 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 (not inlcuding the PEN/Hemmingway or PEN/Faulkner 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 award's online submission form. When submissions open, we will provide a link here to the online submission page. Each 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 before December 24:

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
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 before the end of the year and be asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our three awards judges. Please be sure to 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.