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Sophie Kerr Prize

Sophie Kerr Prize

THE SOPHIE KERR PRIZE  is named after an Eastern Shore author who made her fortune in New York writing women’s fiction during the 1930s and 1940s. The gift she bequeathed 40 years ago now enables the College to offer the Sophie Kerr Lecture Series, bringing to campus many of the nation’s top writers, editors, and scholars. Edward Albee, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, James McBride, Eamon Grennan, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Pinksy, Charles Simic, and Jane Smiley are just a few of the literary heavyweights who have inspired and instructed the next generation of American writers at Washington College.


In addition to the Lecture Series, the Sophie Kerr Gift provides scholarships for students who show literary promise. The result is a vibrant intellectual culture where the literary arts thrive.

In accordance with the terms of her will, half of the annual income from her bequest to the College is awarded each year to the graduating senior demonstrating the best potential for literary achievement. Valued at $63,912 in 2019, it is the nation’s largest undergraduate writing prize. In the past, The Sophie Kerr Prize has been awarded for both creative and critical writing. Student winners are chosen for their literary excellence and their potential for “future literary endeavor,” regardless of genre.

To learn more about The Sophie Kerr Legacy, visit the English Department