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Athenaeum Literary Award


The Athenaeum Literary Award was established in 1950 to recognize and encourage literary achievement among authors who are "bona fide residents of Philadelphia or Pennsylvania living within a radius of 30 miles of City Hall" at the time their book was written or published. Any volume of general literature is eligible; technical, scientific, and juvenile books are not included. Nominated works are reviewed on the basis of their significance and importance to the general public as well as for literary excellence. In recognition of his role in establishing the Literary Award, presentations are usually part of the Charles Wharton Stork Memorial Lecture program which was endowed in 1983 by his children. Dr. Stork (1881-1971) was a member of the board of directors of the Athenaeum from 1919 until 1968.

How To Apply

All nominations must be submitted prior to December 1st of the year of publication.

Authors or publishers may nominate appropriate works by sending two copies of each to:

Literary Award Committee
The Athenaeum of Philadelphia
219 S. 6th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3794


Past Winners

2019   Edward Posnett, Strange Harvests: The Hidden Histories of Seven Natural Objects, New York: Viking, 2019.
    Witold Rybczynski, Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.
2018   Madeline Miller, Circe, New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2018.
    Patrick Spero, Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West, 1765-1776, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.
2017   Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: the Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, New York: 37 Ink/Atria, 2017.
    Carol Eaton Soltis, The Art of the Peales in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Adaptations and Innovations, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2017.
2016   Gino Segrè and Bettina Hoerlin, The Pope of Physics: Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age, New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2016
    Judith E. Stein, Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art, New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.
2015   David Grazian, American Zoo: A Sociological Safari, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.
    Barbara Miller Lane, Houses for a New World: Builders and Buyers in American Suburbs, 1945–1965, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.
2014   Jessica Choppin Roney, Governed by a Spirit of Opposition: The Origins of American Political Practice in Colonial Philadelphia, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
2013   Adrian Raine, The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime, New York: Pantheon, 2013
    George H. Marcus and William Whitaker, The Houses of Louis Kahn, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.
2012   Liz Moore, Heft: A Novel, New York: W.W. Norton, 2012.
    Steven Ujifusa, A Man and His Ship: America’s Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the S. S. United States, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.
    Robert McCracken Peck and Patricia Tyson Stroud, A Glorious Enterprise: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the Making of American Science, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.
2011   No Award
2010   Robin Black, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This: Stories, New York: Random House, 2010.
    Stephen Fried, Appetite For America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire that Civilized the West, Bantam Books, 2010.
2009   Richard Beeman, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of The American Constitution, New York: Random House, 2009.
2008   Walter A. McDougall, Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829-1877, New York: Harper, 2008.
2007   Jon Clinch, Finn: A Novel, New York: Random House, 2007.
2006   David Traxel, Crusader Nation: The United States in Peace and the Great War, 1898-1920, c2006.
2005   Kermit Roosevelt, In the Shadow of the Law, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
2004   Roger W. Moss, Historic Sacred Places of Philadelphia, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.
2003   Jack Repcheck, The Man Who Found Time, Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2003.
2002   Jane Golden, Robin Rice & Monica Yant Kinney, Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.
    Charlene Mires, Independence Hall in American Memory, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.
2001   No Award
2000   Susan Sidlauskas, Body, Place, and Self in Nineteenth-Century Painting, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  Patricia Tyson Stroud, The Emperor of Nature; Charles-Lucien Bonaparte and His World, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.
  George E. Thomas, William L. Price; Arts and Crafts to Modern Design, New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
    Ben Yagoda, About Town; The New Yorker and the World It Made, New York: Scribner, 2000.
1999   J. Welles Henderson & Rodney P. Carlisle,  Jack Tar: A Sailor's Life, 1750-1910, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Antique Collectors' Club, 1999.
  Witold Rybczynski, A Clearing In The Distance, New York: Scribner, 1999.
  Jonathan Weiner, Time, Love, Memory, New York: Knopf, c1999.
1998   James J. O'Donnell, Avatars of the Word.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.
    Leonard Warren, Joseph Leidy: The Last Man Who Knew Everything,  New Haven: Yale University Press, c1998.  
1997   A.C. Elias, Jr., Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington. Athens, University of Georgia Press, c1997.
  Kathleen A. Foster and Kenneth Finkel, Captain Watson's Travels in America. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.
    David P. Silverman, Ancient Egypt.  New York, Oxford University Press, 1997.
    David P. Silverman, Search for Ancient Egypt. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1997
  Mary Walton, Car. New York, W.W. Norton, 1997.
1996   Peter Conn, Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. New York, Cambridge, 1996.
    Diane McKinney-Whetstone, Tumbling. New York, Morrow, 1996.
1995   Thomas Childers, Wings of Morning. New York, Addison-Wesley, 1995.
    Witold Rybczynski, City Life. New York, Scribner, 1995.
    Susan Stewart, The Forest. Chicago University Press, 1995.
1994   Paul Fussell, The Anti-Egotist. New York, Oxford University Press, 1994.
    Steve Lopez, Third and Indiana. New York, Viking-Penguin, 1994.
    Barry Schwartz, The Costs of Living. New York, Norton, 1994.
1993   Seymour I. Toll, A Judge Uncommon. Philadelphia, Legal Communications, 1993.
    Susan Q. Stranahan, Susquehanna, River of Dreams. Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1993.
1992   Arthur Power Dudden, The American Pacific. New York, Oxford University Press, 1992.
1991   Art Carey, The United States of Incompetence. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
    Elizabeth Johns, American Genre Painting. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1991.
  Roger Lane, William Dorsey's Philadelphia and Ours. New York, Oxford University Press, 1991.
1990   Matthews Masayuki Hamabata, Crested Kimono. Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1990.
    Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae. New York, Yale University Press, 1990.
    Paul Halpern, Time Journeys. New York, McGraw Hill, 1990.
  Ora Mendels, A Taste for Treason. New York, Carol Pub. Group, 1990.
1989   Coral Lansbury, The Grotto. New York, Knopf, 1989.
    Emily W. Sunstein, Mary Shelley. Boston, Little Brown, 1989.
    James Snyder, Medieval Art. New York, Abrams, 1989.
1988   Marilyn Gaull, English Romanticism. New York, Norton, 1988.
  Barbara Holland, The Name of the Cat. New York, Dodd Mead, 1988.
    John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy. New York, Hill & Wang, 1988.
1987   No Award
1986   David Eisenhower, Eisenhower: At War, 1943-1945. New York, Random House, 1986.
    Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Pat Nixon. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1986.
    Michael Malone, Handling Sin. Boston, Little Brown, 1986.
    Barry Schwartz, The Battle for Human Nature. New York, Norton, 1986.
1985   Ralph Keyes, Chancing It. Boston, Little Brown, 1985.
    Thomas Maeder, Crime and Madness. New York, Harper & Row, 1985.
    Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct. New York, Knopf, 1985.
1984   Roland M. Frye, The Renaissance Hamlet. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1984.
    Jean Gordon Lee, Philadelphians and the China Trade, 1784-1844. Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1984.
    Philip Chadwick Foster Smith, The Empress of China. Philadelphia, Philadelphia Maritime Museum, 1984.
1983   Gerald Carson, The Dentist and the Empress. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1983.
    Helen H. Gemmill, E.L., the Bread Box Papers. Doylestown, PA, Bucks County Historial Society, 1983.
1982   Susan Gray Detweiler, George Washington's Chinaware. New York, Abrams, 1982.
    Jean Seder, Voices of Kensington. Ardmore, PA, Whitmore Publishing Co., 1982.
    Desmond Ryan, Deadlines. New York, Norton, 1982.
    Seymour Shubin, The Captain. New York, Stein & Day, 1982.
    David R. Slavitt, Ringer. New York, Dutton, 1982.
1981   David Bradley, The Chaneysville Incident. New York, Harper & Row, 1981.
    Daniel Hoffman, Brotherly Love. New York, Random House, 1981.
  John A. Lukacs, Philadelphia, Patricians & Philistines, 1900-1950. New York, Farrar, Straus, Girox, 1981.
  Edgar P. Richardson, Charles Willson Peale and His World. New York, H. N. Abrams, 1981.
    Russell F. Weigley, Eisenhower's Lieutenants. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1981.
1980   Arthur R.G. Solmssen, A Princess in Berlin. Boston, Little Brown, 1980.
    Lois G. Forer, Criminals and Victims. New York, Norton, 1980.
    James C. Humes, Churchill: Speaker of the Century. New York, Stein & Day, 1980.
1979   E. Digby Baltzell, Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia. New York, Free Press, 1979.
    Richard J. Boyle, John Twachtman. New York, Watson Guptill, 1979.
    Dorothy Shipley White, Black Africa and De Gaulle. University Park, PA, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1979.
1978   Anthony F.C. Wallace, Rockdale. New York, Knopf, 1978.
    Peggy Anderson, Nurse. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1978.
  Elizabeth Gray Viving, Being Seventy. New York, Viking Press, 1978.
    Jan V. Westcott, A Woman of Quality. New York, Putnam, 1978.
1977   Seymour Adelman, The Moving Pageant. Lititz, PA, Sutter House, 1977.
    John Francis Marion, Famous and Curious Cemeteries. New York, Crown Publishers, 1977.
    Barbara Rex, I Want to Be in Love Again. New York, Norton, 1977.
1976   No Award
1975   Martin P. Snyder, City of Independence. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1975.
1974   John R. Coleman, Blue Collar Journal. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1974.
1973   John Maas, The Glorious Enterprise. Watkins Glen, NY, American Life Foundation, 1973.
1972   Jerre Mangione, The Dream and the Deal. Boston, Little Brown, 1972.
1971   Loren Eiseley, The Night Country. New York, Scribner, 1971.
1970   No Award
1969   Henry Clarence Pitz, The Brandywine Tradition. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1969.
    Chaim Potok, The Promise. New York, Knopf, 1969.
1968   Ernest Penney Earnest, Expatriates and Patriots. Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 1968.
    Robert C. Smith, The Art of Portugal. London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968.
1967   Daniel P.Mannix, The Fox and the Hound. New York, Dutton, 1967.
  Edmund N. Bacon, Design of Cities. New York, Viking Press, 1967.
1966   Edward S. Gifford, Jr., Father Against the Devil. Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1966.
1965   Laurence Davis Lafore, The Long Fuse. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1965.
1964   Kristin Hunter, God Bless the Child. New York, Scribner's, 1964.
    Elizabeth Gray Vining, Take Heed of Loving Me. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1964.
    Dorothy Shipley White, Seeds of Discord. Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 1964.
1963   Daniel Hoffman, The City of Satisfactions. New York, Oxford University Press, 1963.
    Samuel Noah Kramer, The Sumerians. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1963.
1962   Curtis Bok, Maria. New York, Knopf, 1962.
    Carleton S. Coon, The Origin of Races. New York, Knopf, 1962.
    Richard S. Dunn, Puritans and Yankees. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1962.
1961   Roy F. Nichols, The Stakes of Power, 1845-1877. New York, Hill and Wang, 1961.
    Lauren R. Stevens, The Double Axe. New York, Scribner, 1961.
1960   Edwin Wolf, II (with John F. Fleming), Rosenbach: a biography. Cleveland, World Publishing Company, 1960.
    David Taylor, Storm the Last Rampart. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1960.
1959   John Edwin Canaday, Mainstreams of Modern Art: David to Picasso. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1959.
1958   Loren Eisley, Darwin's Century. Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1958.
    Lyon Sprague DeCamp, An Elephant for Aristotle. Garden City, NJ, Doubleday, 1958.
1957   Catherine Drinker Bowen, The Lion and the Throne. Boston, Little Brown, 1957.
    Bettina Linn, A Letter to Elizabeth. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1957.
1956   Livingston Biddle, Jr., The Village Beyond. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1956.
    Samuel Noah Kramer, From the Tablets of Sumer. Indian Hills, CO, Falcon's Wing Press, 1956.
1955   Conyers Read, Mr. Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth. New York, Knopf, 1955.
1954   Davis Grubb, The Night of the Hunter. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1953.
1953   Lawrence Henry Gipson, The Great War for the Empire 1760-1763, vol. 8, The Culmination, 1760-1763. New York, Knopf, 1953.
1952   Nicholas B. Wainwright, A Philadelphia Story. Philadelphia, Wm. F. Fell Co., 1952.
1951   Arthur Hobson Quinn, The Literature of the American People. New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1950.
1950   Henry N. Paul, The Royal Play of Macbeth. New York, Macmillan, 1950.
1949   John L. LaMonte, The World of the Middle Ages. New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1949.