The Pulitzer Prize Plays, 1918-1934

Excerpt

Joseph Pulitzer died 29 October, 1911. The bequests in his will, their individual variety and common purpose, have probably attracted more widespread attention in America than any bequests since the last testament of Cecil Rhodes.

Several million dollars were left for the School of Journalism at Columbia University, other moneys for resident and travelling fellowships; then came the list of annual prizes--the best newspaper editorial, the best example of a reporter's work, the best American novel, the best book of the year on United States history, the best American biography; and finally, the matter with which we are concerned in this volume, the best American stage-play.

Here is the original statement in the will:

8th. Annually, for the original American play, performed in New York, which shall best represent the educational value and power of the stage in raising the standard of good morals, good taste and good manners, One thousand dollars ($1000).

Under the powers of the Advisory Board of the School of Journalism at Columbia, this provision was in 1928 changed to read as follows:

For the original American play, performed in New York, which shall best represent the educational value and power of the stage, One thousand dollars.

A second change was made in 1934, so that the provision now reads:

For the original American play, performed in New York, which shall best represent the educational value and power of the stage, preferably one dealing with American life, One thousand dollars.

These two changes were salutary; the elision in 1928 of the phrase about good morals, etc. got rid of a metaphysical distinction and a hobble.

The second change in 1934 was equally wise; it simply gave the Committee and then the final Court assistance in deciding between (let us say) two plays that might be of about equal artistic merit.

A Committee of three men has been annually appointed by Columbia; this committee reports in the Spring to the Advisory Board of the School of Journalism, recommending, either unanimously or by a majority vote, the play most deserving of the award. The award of course is made by the Trustees of Columbia University on the recommendation of the Advisory Board of the School of Journalism.

The three members of the committee on the Pulitzer Prize Play who make the original recommendation act only on their own personal responsibility . . .

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Eugene O'Neill
  • Hatcher Hughes
  • Sidney Howard
  • George Kelly
  • Paul Green
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1935

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.