Pulitzer Prize for Drama

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It is one of the original Pulitzers, for the program was inaugurated in 1917 with seven prizes, four of which were awarded that year.[1] (No Drama prize was given, however, so that one was inaugurated in 1918, in a sense.)[2] It recognizes a theatrical work staged in the U.S. during the preceding calendar year.

Through 2006 the Drama Prize was unlike the majority of the other Pulitzer Prizes: during these years, the eligibility period for the drama prize ran from March 1 to March 2, to reflect the Broadway 'season' rather than the calendar year. The decision was made, however, that the 2007 Prize would consider works staged during an eligibility period of January 1 to December 31, 2006—thus bringing the schedule for the Drama Prize in line with those of the other prizes.

The drama jury, which consists of one academic and four critics, attends plays in New York and in regional theaters. The Pulitzer board has the authority to overrule the jury's choice, however, as happened in 1986 when the jury chose the CIVIL warS to receive the prize, but due to the board's opposition no award was given.

In 1955 Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. pressured the prize jury into presenting the Prize to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which the jury considered the weakest of the five shortlisted nominees ("amateurishly constructed... from the stylistic points of view annoyingly pretentious"), instead of Clifford Odets' The Flowering Peach (their preferred choice) or The Bad Seed, their second choice.[3] Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Drama by that award's committee. However, the committee's selection was overruled by the award's advisory board, the trustees of Columbia University, because of the play's then-controversial use of profanity and sexual themes. Had Albee been awarded, he would be tied with Eugene O'Neill for the most Pulitzer Prizes for Drama (four).

Awards and nominations

In its first 98 years to 2013, the Drama Pulitzer was awarded 82 times; none were given in 15 different years and it was never split.

The most recipients of the prize in one year was five, when Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood, Jr., Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch, and Edward Kleban shared the 1976 prize for the musical A Chorus Line.[2]

† marks winners of the Tony Award for Best Play.
* marks winners of the Tony Award for Best Musical.


Year Production Author
no award[1] N/A
Why Marry? Jesse Lynch Williams
no award N/A


Year Production Author
Beyond the Horizon Eugene O'Neill
Miss Lulu Bett Zona Gale
Anna Christie Eugene O'Neill
Icebound Owen Davis
Hell-Bent Fer Heaven Hatcher Hughes
They Knew What They Wanted Sidney Howard
Craig's Wife George Kelly
In Abraham's Bosom Paul Green
Strange Interlude Eugene O'Neill
Street Scene Elmer Rice


Year Production Author
The Green Pastures Marc Connelly
Alison's House Susan Glaspell
Of Thee I Sing George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, Ira Gershwin
Both Your Houses Maxwell Anderson
Men in White Sidney Kingsley
The Old Maid Zoë Akins
Idiot's Delight Robert E. Sherwood
You Can't Take It with You Moss Hart, George S. Kaufman
Our Town Thornton Wilder
Abe Lincoln in Illinois Robert E. Sherwood


Year Production Author
The Time of Your Life William Saroyan
There Shall Be No Night Robert E. Sherwood
no award N/A
The Skin of Our Teeth Thornton Wilder
no award N/A
Harvey Mary Coyle Chase
State of the Union Russel Crouse, Howard Lindsay
no award N/A
A Streetcar Named Desire Tennessee Williams
Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller


Year Production Author
South Pacific* Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Joshua Logan
no award N/A
The Shrike Joseph Kramm
Picnic William Inge
The Teahouse of the August Moon John Patrick
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Tennessee Williams
The Diary of Anne Frank Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich
Long Day's Journey into Night Eugene O'Neill
Look Homeward, Angel Ketti Frings
J.B. Archibald MacLeish


Year Production Author
Fiorello!* Jerome Weidman, George Abbott, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick
All the Way Home Tad Mosel
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying* Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows
no award[4] N/A
no award N/A
The Subject Was Roses Frank D. Gilroy
no award N/A
A Delicate Balance Edward Albee
no award N/A
The Great White Hope Howard Sackler


Year Production Author
No Place to be Somebody Charles Gordone
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds Paul Zindel
no award N/A
That Championship Season Jason Miller
no award N/A
Seascape Edward Albee
A Chorus Line* Michael Bennett, Nicholas Dante and James Kirkwood, Jr., Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban
The Shadow Box Michael Cristofer
The Gin Game Donald L. Coburn
Buried Child Sam Shepard


Year Production Author
Talley's Folly Lanford Wilson
Crimes of the Heart Beth Henley
A Soldier's Play Charles Fuller
'night, Mother Marsha Norman
True West Sam Shepard
Glengarry Glen Ross David Mamet
Fool for Love Sam Shepard
Painting Churches Tina Howe
Sunday in the Park with George James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim
The Dining Room A. R. Gurney
The Gospel at Colonus Lee Breuer, Bob Telson
no award N/A
Fences August Wilson
Broadway Bound Neil Simon
A Walk in the Woods Lee Blessing
Driving Miss Daisy Alfred Uhry
Boy's Life Howard Korder
Talk Radio Eric Bogosian
The Heidi Chronicles Wendy Wasserstein
Joe Turner's Come and Gone August Wilson
M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang


Year Production Author
The Piano Lesson August Wilson
And What of the Night? María Irene Fornés
Love Letters A. R. Gurney
Lost in Yonkers Neil Simon
Prelude to a Kiss Craig Lucas
Six Degrees of Separation John Guare
The Kentucky Cycle Robert Schenkkan
Conversations with My Father Herb Gardner
Miss Evers' Boys David Feldshuh
Two Trains Running August Wilson
Sight Unseen Donald Margulies
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches Tony Kushner
The Destiny of Me Larry Kramer
Fires in the Mirror Anna Deavere Smith
Three Tall Women Edward Albee
Keely and Du Jane Martin
A Perfect Ganesh Terrence McNally
The Young Man from Atlanta Horton Foote
The Cryptogram David Mamet
Seven Guitars August Wilson
Rent* Jonathan Larson
A Fair Country Jon Robin Baitz
Old Wicked Songs Jon Marans
no award N/A
Collected Stories Donald Margulies
The Last Night of Ballyhoo Alfred Uhry
Pride's Crossing Tina Howe
How I Learned to Drive Paula Vogel
Freedomland Amy Freed
Three Days of Rain Richard Greenberg
Wit Margaret Edson
Running Man Cornelius Eady and Diedre Murray
Side Man Warren Leight


Year Production Author
Dinner with Friends Donald Margulies
In the Blood Suzan-Lori Parks
King Hedley II August Wilson
Proof David Auburn
The Play About the Baby Edward Albee
The Waverly Gallery Kenneth Lonergan
Topdog/Underdog Suzan-Lori Parks
The Glory of Living Rebecca Gilman
Yellowman Dael Orlandersmith
Anna in the Tropics Nilo Cruz
The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? Edward Albee
Take Me Out Richard Greenberg
I Am My Own Wife Doug Wright
Man from Nebraska Tracy Letts
Omnium Gatherum Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros
Doubt: A Parable John Patrick Shanley
The Clean House Sarah Ruhl
Thom Pain (based on nothing) Will Eno
no award N/A
Miss Witherspoon Christopher Durang
The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow Rolin Jones
Red Light Winter Adam Rapp
Rabbit Hole David Lindsay-Abaire
Bulrusher Eisa Davis
Orpheus X Rinde Eckert
Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue Quiara Alegría Hudes
August: Osage County Tracy Letts
Dying City Christopher Shinn
Yellow Face David Henry Hwang
Ruined Lynn Nottage
Becky Shaw Gina Gionfriddo
In the Heights* Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes


Year Production Author
Next to Normal Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo Rajiv Joseph
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity Kristoffer Diaz
In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) Sarah Ruhl
Clybourne Park Bruce Norris
Detroit Lisa D'Amour
A Free Man of Color John Guare
Water by the Spoonful Quiara Alegría Hudes
Other Desert Cities Jon Robin Baitz
Sons of the Prophet Stephen Karam
Disgraced Ayad Akhtar
Rapture, Blister, Burn Gina Gionfriddo
4000 Miles Amy Herzog
The Flick Annie Baker
The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence Madeleine George
Fun Home* Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron
Between Riverside and Crazy Stephen Adly Guirgis
Marjorie Prime Jordan Harrison
Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3) Suzan-Lori Parks
Hamilton* Lin-Manuel Miranda
The Humans Stephen Karam
Gloria Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Sweat Lynn Nottage
A 24-Decade History of Popular Music Taylor Mac
The Wolves Sarah DeLappe
Cost of Living Martyna Majok
Everybody Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
The Minutes Tracy Letts
Fairview Jackie Sibblies Drury
Dance Nation Clare Barron
What the Constitution Means to Me Heidi Schreck


Nine musicals have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, roughly one per decade from the 1930s to the 2010s¹. They are: George and Ira Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing (1932), Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific (1950), Bock & Harnick's Fiorello! (1960), Frank Loesser's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962), Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban, James Kirkwood, Jr., and Nicholas Dante's A Chorus Line (1976), Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George (1985), Jonathan Larson's Rent (1996), Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt's Next to Normal (2010), and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton (2016).

Of Thee I Sing, Sunday in the Park with George, and Next to Normal are the only musicals that won the Pulitzer Prize and did not win the Tony Award for Best Musical. However, Of Thee I Sing opened when the Tony Awards did not exist, and Next to Normal won the Tony Award for Best Original Score and the Tony Award for Best Orchestrations.[5]

The award goes to the playwright, although production of the play is also taken into account. In the case of a musical being awarded the prize, the composer, lyricist and book writer are generally the recipients. An exception to this was the first Pulitzer ever awarded to a musical: when Of Thee I Sing won in 1932, book authors George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, as well as lyricist Ira Gershwin, were cited as the winners, while composer George Gershwin's contribution was overlooked by the committee. The reason given was that the Pulitzer Prize for Drama is a dramatic award, and not a musical one. However, by 1950 the Pulitzer committee included composer Richard Rodgers as a recipient when South Pacific won the award, in recognition of music as an integral and important part of the theatrical experience.[6]

Additionally, since 1983, when the identity of finalists was first disclosed, four musicals have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. They are: Lee Breuer and Bob Telson's The Gospel at Colonus (1985); Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes' In the Heights (2009); Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron's Fun Home (2014); and Taylor Mac’s “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music” (2017).[2]

¹All listed dates are Prize years. Generally, the musical in question opened in New York during either the preceding calendar year or the preceding Broadway season.

Multiple wins and nominations

The following individuals received two or more Pulitzer Prizes for Drama:

Wins Playwright Nominations
4 Eugene O'Neill 4
3 Edward Albee 5
Robert E. Sherwood 3
2 August Wilson 6
George S. Kaufman 2
Lynn Nottage
Thornton Wilder
Tennessee Williams

The following individuals received two or more nominations:

Nominations Playwright
6 August Wilson
5 Edward Albee
3 Quiara Alegría Hudes
Tracy Letts
Donald Margulies
Suzan-Lori Parks
Sam Shepard
2 Jon Robin Baitz
Gina Gionfriddo
John Guare
A.R. Gurney
Richard Greenberg
Tina Howe
David Henry Hwang
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Stephen Karam
George S. Kaufman
David Mamet
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lynn Nottage
Robert E. Sherwood
Neil Simon
Sarah Ruhl
Alfred Uhry
Thornton Wilder
Tennessee Williams

Lynn Nottage is the only female playwright to win the prize twice. She and August Wilson are the only playwrights of color to accomplish this feat.

Jon Robin Baitz, Gina Gionfriddo, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, Richard Greenberg, Tina Howe, David Henry Hwang, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Stephen Karam, and Sarah Ruhl have each been named finalists twice without winning. Lin-Manuel Miranda is the only person to be named either a finalist or winner twice for writing and composing a musical.


  1. ^ a b "1917 Winners". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-12-20.
  2. ^ a b c "Drama". The Pulitzer Prizes (pulitzer.org). Retrieved 2013-12-20.
  3. ^ Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich & Erika J. Fischer. The Pulitzer Prize Archive: A History and Anthology of Award-Winning Materials in Journalism, Letters, and Arts München: K.G. Saur, 2008. ISBN 3-598-30170-7 ISBN 9783598301704 p. 246
  4. ^ The Pulitzer committee recommended Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? *, but the Pulitzer board, who have sole discretion in awarding the prize, rejected the recommendation, due to the play's perceived vulgarity, and no award was given instead.
      Klein, Alvin. "Albee's 'Tiny Alice,' The Whole Enchilada". The New York Times. May 24, 1998: CT11.
  5. ^ Next to Normal at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. ^ Flinn, Denny Martin. Musical! A Grand Tour. Schirmer, first edition (April 17, 1997), pages 230–31. ISBN 0-02-864610-X

External links

Alison's House

Alison's House is a drama in three acts by American playwright Susan Glaspell.

It was first produced at Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre on 14th Street, New York, on 1 December 1930, where it was given 25 performances in the regular repertory season. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1931. In May 1931 the production was transferred uptown to the Ritz Theatre, but it received indifferent reviews and closed after two weeks.It is 18 years since Alison Stanhope, the country's foremost poet, died. Now the house she lived in must be sold, but it holds secrets. Did Alison sacrifice the man she loved for the sake of her family's reputation? And whom do such sacrifices benefit? The play's struggles are set in 1899, on the cusp of the 20th century, in which very different values will come to prevail. Inspired by the life and work of the American poet Emily Dickinson, Glaspell set the play in her native Iowa.

Beyond the Horizon (play)

Beyond the Horizon is a play written by American playwright Eugene O'Neill. Although he first copyrighted the text in June 1918, O'Neill continued to revise the play throughout the rehearsals for its 1920 premiere. His first full-length work to be staged, Beyond the Horizon won the 1920 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Craig's Wife

Craig's Wife is a 1925 play written by American playwright George Kelly, uncle of actress and later Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly. It won the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and has been adapted for three feature films.

Crimes of the Heart

Crimes of the Heart is a play by American playwright Beth Henley. It is set in Hazlehurst, Mississippi in the mid-20th century. The play won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. In 1986, the play was novelized and released as a book, written by Claudia Reilly.

Fairview (play)

Fairview is a 2018 play written by Jackie Sibblies Drury. The play premiered at Soho Repertory Theatre, running from June 17, 2018 through August 12, 2018. The play will be produced at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in the summer of 2019. In April 2019, Fairview won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Pulitzer committee calling the play "a hard-hitting drama that examines race in a highly conceptual, layered structure, ultimately bringing audiences into the actors' community to face deep-seated prejudices."


Fiorello! is a musical about New York City mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, a reform Republican who took on the Tammany Hall political machine. The book is by Jerome Weidman and George Abbott, drawn substantially from the 1955 volume Life with Fiorello by Ernest Cuneo, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock. It is one of only nine musicals to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Icebound (play)

Icebound is a 1923 play written by American playwright Owen Davis, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It is set in Veazie, Maine, a suburb of Bangor.

Jerry Bock

Jerrold Lewis "Jerry" Bock (November 23, 1928 – November 3, 2010) was an American musical theater composer. He received the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Sheldon Harnick for their 1959 musical Fiorello! and the Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist for the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof with Sheldon Harnick.

Lost in Yonkers

Lost in Yonkers is a play by Neil Simon. The play won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Men in White (play)

Men in White is a 1933 play written by American playwright Sidney Kingsley.

It was produced by the Group Theatre, Sidney Harmon and James R. Ullman,

directed by Lee Strasberg with scenic design created by Mordecai Gorelik. It ran for

351 performances from September 26, 1933 to July 28, 1934 at the Broadhurst Theatre. The play won the 1934 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

It was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1933–1934.

Our Town

Our Town is a 1938 metatheatrical three-act play by American playwright Thornton Wilder. It tells the story of the fictional American small town of Grover's Corners between 1901 and 1913 through the everyday lives of its citizens.

Throughout, Wilder uses metatheatrical devices, setting the play in the actual theatre where it is being performed. The main character is the stage manager of the theatre who directly addresses the audience, brings in guest lecturers, fields questions from the audience, and fills in playing some of the roles. The play is performed without a set on a mostly bare stage. With a few exceptions, the actors mime actions without the use of props.

Our Town was first performed at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey in 1938. It later went on to success on Broadway and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It remains popular today and revivals are frequent.

Ruined (play)

Ruined is a play by Lynn Nottage. The play won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play involves the plight of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sweat (play)

Sweat is a 2015 play by American playwright Lynn Nottage. It won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015; it was produced Off-Broadway in 2016 and on Broadway in 2017. The play is centered on the working class of Reading, Pennsylvania.

That Championship Season

That Championship Season is a 1972 play by Jason Miller. It was the recipient of the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Diary of Anne Frank (play)

The Diary of Anne Frank is a stage adaptation of the book The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It premiered at the Cort Theatre in 1955.

The Gin Game

The Gin Game is a two-person, two-act play by Donald L. Coburn that premiered at American Theater Arts in Hollywood in September 1976, directed by Kip Niven. It was Coburn's first play, and the theater's first production. The play won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Old Maid (play)

The Old Maid is a 1935 play adapted by American playwright Zoë Akins from Edith Wharton's 1924 novella of the same name, included in the collection Old New York. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It ran for 305 performances at the Empire Theatre in 1935.

The Irish dramatist Arthur Murphy also wrote a play of the same name, which was first produced in 1761.

The Time of Your Life

The Time of Your Life is a 1939 five-act play by American playwright William Saroyan. The play is the first drama to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The play opened on Broadway in 1939.

Water by the Spoonful

Water by the Spoonful is a play by Quiara Alegría Hudes. It won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Authors
Pulitzer Prize for Drama

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