“… for the encouragement of public service, public morals, American literature and the advancement of education.”The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and is administered by Columbia University in New York City (U.S.) Here are some interesting facts about the prize:
1. The pronunciation of Pulitzer is "pull it sir."
2. Currently, there are 21 categories and five fellowships – Journalism: Public Service, Local Reporting of Breaking News, Investigative Reporting, Explanatory Reporting, Local Reporting, National Affairs, International Affairs, Feature Writing, Commentary, Criticism, Editorial Writing, Cartoon or Portfolio of Cartoons, Breaking News Photography, Feature Photography. Letters: Fiction, History, Biography or Autobiography, Original Verse, Nonfiction. Drama: Theatrical play. Music: Musical Composition.
3. In 20 of the 21 categories, the winners receive a $10,000 cash award and a certificate. The Public Service category winner of the Journalism competition is the only one awarded a gold medal. This prize is always awarded to a newspaper, and not an individual.
4. Jeffrey A. Marx became the youngest winner in 1986, at age 23, when he and fellow reporter Michael M. York received the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.
5. Online-only newspapers are still not allowed to enter the prize.
6. John F. Kennedy, who was awarded the 1957 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for his book "Profiles in Courage”, remains the only American president to be awarded the prize.
7. The gold medal for the Public Service Category was designed by sculptor, Daniel Chester French.
8. The Pulitzer Prizes are awarded at a luncheon in late May, about a month after the names of the winners have been announced. The luncheon takes place at Low Library on the Columbia University campus, New York.
9. Before 1948, the Fiction category was called ‘Novel’.
10. Only U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for the Prizes in Letters, Drama and Music (with the exception of the History category in Letters where the book must be a history of the United States but the author may be of any nationality). For the Journalism competition, entrants may be of any nationality but work must have appeared in a U.S. newspaper published at least once a week, on a newspaper's Web site or on an online news organization's Web site.
11. The first African-American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize was Gwendolyn Brooks in 1950; she received the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for "Annie Allen."
12. The Pulitzer Prize Board is composed of 20 members, 18 of whom are voting members. And members serve a maximum of three three-year terms.
13. The first women to win the Pulitzer Prizes were given to Laura E. Richards and Maude Howe Elliott with assistance from Florence Howe Hall in 1917 for their biography of Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), an abolitionist and author of the famous Civil War anthem, Battle Hymn of the Republic.
14. Only four prizes were handed out in the first Pulitzer Prize ceremony, in 1917; one of which was given to a trio of women.
15. Sylvia Plath, became the first person to win the Pulitzer Prize posthumously in 1982, as a posthumous publication – The Collection of Poems by the late Sylvia Plath won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Plath died by suicide in 1963.
16. Nigerian, Dele Olojede became the first African-born winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. He won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his "fresh, haunting look at Rwanda a decade after rape and genocidal slaughter had ravaged the Tutsi tribe."
FACTS ABOUT JOSEPH PULITZER
1. Born April 10, 1847 – Pulitzer immigrated to the United States as a young man in 1864 and served in the 1st New York Cavalry during the Civil War.
2. On March 6, 1867, he renounced his allegiance to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and became an American citizen.
3. He made his way to St. Louis after the war and in 1868 began working for the German language newspaper the Westliche Post.
4. Pulitzer studied English and law and served in the Missouri legislature, and by 1872 he was the owner and publisher of the Post.
5. In 1878, he bought The Evening Dispatch and merged the two newspapers into the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Pulitzer moved to New York, where he acquired the New York World (1883), founded the New York Evening World (1887), becoming one of the most powerful newspaper publishers in the United States
6. In 1884, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York, and served from March 4, 1885, until April 10, 1886
7. Pulitzer had frail health and was almost completely blind in his later years.
8. In 1892, Pulitzer offered Columbia University's president, Seth Low, money to set up the world's first school of journalism. The university initially turned down the money.
9. On October 29, 1911, Pulitzer said his last words while his German secretary read to him about King Louis XI of France. As the secretary neared the end, Pulitzer said in German: "Leise, ganz leise" (English: "Softly, quite softly").
10. Pulitzer left the university $2,000,000 in his will. In 1912 the school founded the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
11. Pulitzer was the first to call for the training of journalists at the university level in a school of journalism.
Written By: Olusola Agbaje
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