1941 May 6

Ernest Hemingway Denied Pulitzer Prize for “For Whom the Bell Tolls”


The noted American writer Ernest Hemingway was recommended for the Pulitzer Prize in Literature by the Pulitzer’s Fiction Committee for his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. He was denied the award, however, because of backstage lobbying by Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University and ex-officio member of the Pulitzer Prize Board of Directors. Butler apparently regarded the novel as too favorable to the anti-Franco, anti-Fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War. No prize for fiction was awarded for the year.

The conservative Butler had been aggressively pro-war and an anti-civil libertarian during World War I, firing two professors for their alleged “disloyalty,” on October 1, 1917; noted historian Charles Beard resigned in protest on October 9, 1917.

Hemingway finally was the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea. He was then awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.  Six of his novels or short stories were banned or challenged over the years, including his best novels: The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Read Hemingway’s novel: Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (many editions available)

Learn more about the Spanish Civil War: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/scw/scw.htm

Learn more about Hemingway: http://www.ernesthemingwaycollection.com/

Watch a short biography of Hemingway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WesofnMhFPA

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