Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism: Gillian Beer

October 19, 2017 - 4:00pm
Old Capitol Museum
Senate Chamber

A ceremony for the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin, will be held on Thursday, October 19 at 4pm, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol on the University of Iowa campus. The 2017 prize will be awarded to Dame Gillian Beer  for her book, Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll, published by University Of Chicago Press.

The $30,000 award—the largest annual cash prize in English-language literary criticism—is administered for the Truman Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

There will be a short presentation of Gillian Beer's work read by Professor Claire Fox, Chair of the English Department, followed by a reading of Truman Capote's writing.

The Truman Capote Estate announced the establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust in 1994 during a breakfast at Tiffany's, in New York City, on the 40th anniversary of the publication of Capote’s novella, Breakfast at Tiffany's. 

Dame Beer was the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge from 1994 until her retirement in 2002, and is a former President of Clare Hall College. She is now Emeritus Professor and an Honorary Fellow of Clare Hall and Girton Colleges.  She was Andrew W Mellon Senior Scholar at the Yale Center for British Art from 2010-2012.

Among her books are Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1983, third edition 2009), Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter (1996) and Virginia Woolf: the Common Ground (1996). She has published a series of essays on rhyme and a Collected and Annotated Edition of Lewis Carroll’s poems, Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense (2012).

In addition to the administration of the literary criticism award, the Writers' Workshop's involvement with the trust includes awarding Truman Capote fellowships to UI students in creative writing.

The creation of the Truman Capote Literary Trust was stipulated in the author's will, and the Annual Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin reflects Capote's frequently expressed concern for the health of literary criticism in the English language. The awards are designed to reward and encourage excellence in the field. 

Newton Arvin, in whose memory the award was established, was one of the critics Capote admired. However, Arvin's academic career at Smith College was destroyed in the late 1940s when his homosexuality was exposed.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Writers’ Workshop in advance at (319) 335-0416.