Washington Prize Recognizes Creator of Hit Musical “Hamilton”
NEW YORK—Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright, lyricist, composer, and star of the groundbreaking hit musical Hamilton will be honored with a Special Achievement Award from the Board of one of the nation’s most prestigious literary honors, the George Washington Prize. The special award and accompanying prize of $50,000 will be presented to Miranda at a ceremony in New York City on December 14, 2015.
Created in 2005, the Washington Prize recognizes new works that offer fresh perspectives on George Washington and our nation’s Founding Era. One of the largest literary honors presented each year, the $50,000 prize is awarded jointly by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, and Washington College.
Critics and audiences have been effusive in their praise for Hamilton, which tells the story of the nation’s first treasurer using rap, hip hop, and diverse casting. The Wall Street Journal called it “the best and most important Broadway musical of the past decade,” and New York Times columnist David Brooks described it as “Bold, rousing, sexy, tear-jerking and historically respectful—the sort of production that asks you to think afresh about your country and your life.”
Miranda’s special recognition marks the first time the George Washington Prize has been presented to a play. In announcing Miranda’s selection, a spokesperson for the Washington Prize Committee stated, “In capturing the hearts of all who have seen it, Hamilton has clearly made the lessons of our Founding accessible and engaging while hewing to historical fact. We honor Lin-Manuel Miranda with a Special Achievement Award for this extraordinary accomplishment.”
Miranda’s recognition circles back to the first George Washington Prize, which was awarded to Ron Chernow for his biography Alexander Hamilton in 2005. According to Miranda, Chernow’s book was an inspiration for his blockbuster musical. In May 2015, Nick Bunker became the eleventh winner of the Prize, for his book An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America.
About the Sponsors of the George Washington Prize
Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The college’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the Washington Prize, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture, and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs. For more information: www.washcoll.edu.
Founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit devoted to the teaching and learning of American history. Gilder Lehrman draws on top scholars, an unparalleled collection of original historical documents, and a national network of more than 7,000 Affiliate Schools to provide a broad range of innovative resources to help teachers, students, scholars, and the general public learn about American history in meaningful ways. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians. For more information: www.gilderlehrman.org.
With its latest initiative, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, George Washington’s Mount Vernon affirms its status as the preeminent center of learning about Washington, his life, character of leadership, and legacy. In addition to safeguarding original books and manuscripts, the Library serves as a center for leadership inspired by Washington’s extraordinary example. Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853. For more information: www.mountvernon.org.
More information about the George Washington Prize is available at washcoll.edu/gwbookprize.
Photography credits: Scene from Hamilton, by Joan Marcus.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, by Matthew Murphy.