The 1918 Novel Desicion

There is little in the way of controversy when it comes to the 1918 decision to award the Pulitzer Prize for Novel to Ernest Poole for His Family. There is no mention of how many applicants there were this year, as opposed to the five legitimate applicants the year before. The Novel jury (comprised of the same members as the year before), recommended that His Family, by Ernest Poole, be awarded the prize in 1918, as well as suggesting that Bromley Neighborhood, by Alice Brown, be given honorable mention, though the Advisory Board did not officially honor Bromley Neighborhood in any way. It was not until 1980 that they began making regular mention of, or recording, finalists in the Fiction category.

It should not come as a surprise that the first Pulitzer Prize winner in the Novel category was a journalist himself, but as I mentioned in my last post, many believe that Poole won the award as a recognition for the work he did with The Harbor, and not for any merit of His Family in and of itself. The Harbor was a bestseller in 1915, and one of first successful novels to paint socialism and the labor movement in a positive light. But for the public, he had won for what they considered a lesser novel, and it seems His Family has been forgotten for any merits it might have, and is relegated almost entirely to a footnote in the history of the Pulitzer Prize system.

Currently Reading: His Family by Ernest Poole


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