English Department

Writing Prizes, Fellowships, and Awards


English Department Writing Prizes

Fall 2023 Deadline: Monday, December 4, 2023 by 11:59 pm.

COLE PRIZE: Established through the gift of George Henry Walker, Class of 1881, in the memory of Charles Edward Cole, to recognize first-year students who show great ability in fiction or non-fiction writing. Please Note: This prize is for First Year students only--current Class of 2026.

HERBERT LEE CONNELLY PRIZE: Given in 1980 by Mabel Wells Connelly in the name of her husband, member of the class of 1909, and Alumni Secretary 1924-1956. Supplemented by friends, relatives, and sons, Hugh Wells and Theodore Sample '48, the fund provides income to be awarded annually to a deserving undergraduate who demonstrates an interest in English literature and an unusual ability in non-fiction writing. NOTE: Academic papers may be submitted, but this prize is usually awarded for creative nonfiction, journalism, or work directed to general readers.

HORGAN PRIZE: Awarded by the Department of English in memory of Paul Horgan, former Professor and Writer in Residence. Awarded to the student who has written the best short story of the year.

GERALDINE J. MURPHY PRIZE: Established in memory of Geraldine J. Murphy (1920-1990), Professor of English at Wesleyan. She was the first woman hired as a full-time instructor at Wesleyan (1957), the first woman promoted to a tenured position, and the first woman promoted to the title of full professor. The prize is endowed by alumni of the Wesleyan Master of Arts in Teaching program. Awarded to a student who has written an outstanding critical essay that focuses on short fiction or novels.

REED PRIZE: Established in memory of Wesleyan mothers, Anne Carolyn Reed and Sophie Felice Reed, for the best poem or group of poems.

WINCHESTER FIRST-YEAR ESSAY PRIZE: Drawing on funds endowed in 1838 in honor of Caleb Thomas Winchester, this prize is awarded to the best scholarly essay written by a first-year student in any English Department course in the preceding calendar year. Instructors may nominate students for this award. Please note: Students who took any English course as first years in Spring 2023 are eligible to apply.


Shu Tokita Prize

Deadline: Monday, December 4, 2023

For Students of Color Studying Literature:

The Shu Tokita ’84 Prize is awarded to a student of color majoring in literature, in area studies, or a language major with a focus on literature that demonstrates the need for substantial financial assistance. The friends and family of Shu Tokita established the prize in memory of his passing from leukemia, five years after graduating from Wesleyan. For him, literature was a pursuit that spoke to his life, one from which he drew both insight and strength. The award focuses on supporting students of color, for whom the study of literature is often considered a luxury. Awarded to one or two sophomores and/or juniors who demonstrate a clear commitment to literature, the prize is usually $1,500 per year for the remainder of their time at Wesleyan. The recipient(s) of the Shu Tokita Prize will receive the annual award at the start of the following fall semester, that is, for their junior and/or senior year(s), with the hope to encourage the recipients to share their insights and wisdom with their communities. Current Wesleyan student winners of the Shu Tokita Prize are Irmina Benson ’21, Ericka Ekhator ’21, Jake Kwon ’21, Jade Tate ’22 and Mosab Hamid '22.



  1. Any domestic student of color (U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or undocumented student) who is a full-time Wesleyan sophomore or junior and is African American, Asian/Pacific American, Latino/a American, or Native American, is eligible to apply. The applicant must be in need of substantial financial aid.
  2. The applicant's major or focus of study must be in literature. Applicants may be affiliated with the following departments: English, College of Letters, other language/literature departments, or area studies, e. g., East Asian Studies concentrating on Chinese or Japanese literature.



The selection is based on the submitted 750-word essay on one of two topics, and on financial need, and not on academic standing.


The Annie Sonnenblick Writing Award  

Deadline: Monday, April 22, 2024 

The Sonnenblick family has established this award in memory of Annie Sonnenblick, a member of the Wesleyan class of 1980, who took great pleasure in literature and the creative arts. The award provides up to $4,000 to a junior who wishes to undertake a nonfiction writing project during the summer between junior and senior year.

Application is attached below, and requires: a description of the proposed writing project, an itemized budget with estimated expenses, a writing sample, and two faculty references. Applicants should mention previous writing training, reading, and research.

Previous winning projects have included various kinds of creative, scholarly, and critical nonfiction writing. The completed project and a report on spending will be due September 15, 2024 and will be reviewed by one or several faculty members and donors.



The English Department awards fellowships that support summer projects or graduate study. Detailed applications must be submitted along with references or recommendations for serious consideration. Please note the application instructions following the descriptions. Specific deadlines will be posted once determined.

Olin Fellowship

Deadline: Monday, April 22, 2024

For first years, sophomores and juniors:

Founded in 1854 by the mother of Stephen Olin, President 1839-41 and 1842-51 and later increased by gifts of Stephen Henry Olin, Class of 1866 and Acting President 1922-23, and his wife. Olin fellowships are awarded to support independent research or creative writing, and are to be used for work in English outside the Wesleyan course structure. Such work may consist of research (in preparation for your thesis, for example) or training in research methods, study in an academic program, or creative writing.

Fellowships will be awarded on the basis of your project’s merit, your ability to carry it out, and in recognition of both promise and achievement in English studies. Your financial need will be a factor although it is not the primary consideration


Winchester Fellowship

Deadline: Monday, April 22, 2024

For graduating seniors and recent graduates: 

Established in 1938, in memory of Professor Caleb Thomas Winchester, by his widow. Winchester fellowships are open to graduating seniors and recent graduates, and are intended to support graduate work in literature or writing, particularly work for the Ph.D. Applicants must already be admitted to a graduate program in order to receive a fellowship. The Winchester award is intended to be used as a substantial supplement to fellowships, teaching assistantships, and the like, or to enable students to undertake research or travel. The maximum award is $5,000.

The Department will consider academic achievement at Wesleyan and potential for achievement in graduate school. Wesleyan graduates may apply and be awarded a fellowship up to two times. The time lapsed between graduation and application is not a determining factor.


Writing Prizes--Submission Instructions 


English Academic Awards

Candidates for the following awards are nominated by members of the faculty based on academic qualifications for each award.


Established in 1905 by the Board of Trustees in memory of Samuel T. Camp, Trustee 1880-1903 for excellence in English Literature. No application necessary.


Established through the gift of Daniel Dorchester IV, Class of 1874, this award is given for the best Honors thesis submitted to the English Department. No application necessary.