The WNBA Award is presented by the members of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) to a “living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books and allied arts and who has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation.”
The award has been presented continuously since 1940. The award was originally awarded annually. Since 1976, it has been presented every other year in even-numbered years.
2021 WNBA Award Nominations
Nominations are now open for the 2021 WNBA Award.
Nominations close on February 5, 2021.
All WNBA members can nominate one or more women of literary distinction.
To nominate someone, please refer to the form found in the announcement email from the WNBA sent on January 5, 2021.
If you did not receive the email, you can email NC Weil, WNBA Award chair and National co-vice president, at co-vicepresident [at] wnba-books.org, and she will send you the form.
If you are not signed up for the Bookwoman emails, you can sign up at any time.
The WNBA Award’s Origins
The award was formerly known as the Constance Lindsay Skinner Award. Its namesake was a playwright, critic, editor, and author active from early in the 20th century until her death in 1939.
Constance Lindsay Skinner (CLS) was a member of the New York City chapter, one of the founders of our Bookwoman Newsletter, and one of the first female editors in adult book publishing in the United States.
Constance Lindsay Skinner was a WNBA beacon who envisioned expanding the organization’s membership across the country. In addition to her professional work as a writer, she provided initial funding for Bookwoman, which led to the formation of chapters in different cities.
This capsule biography offers a taste of her life:
“Born in 1879 at a trading post in British Columbia, CLS became famous as a novelist, historian, juvenile book author, dramatist, and at the time of her death in 1939, editor of the Rivers of America series. Her American frontier stories included ‘Silent Scot: Frontier Scout’ (1925) and ‘Red Man’s Luck’ (1931) and the historical ‘Adventures in Oregon’ (1920). She spent her childhood among fur traders, Indians, and mounted police. She attended school in Vancouver, wrote her first story when she was 5, produced her own 3-act operetta at 14, contributed to newspapers at 16, and while still in her teens got a job on a Los Angeles newspaper. Later she moved to New York and wrote fiction, poetry, and historical books. Articles and motion pictures made of her works are still in use in schools.” (Bookwoman, Vol. 27, no. 1, May 1964)
The Constance Lindsay Skinner Award was awarded the year after her death to honor her contributions to the literary world.
In 1980, the WNBA wrote the book Constance Lindsay Skinner: Author and Editor to help keep this literary pioneer’s memory alive.
Read the award announcements for our most recent winners:
WNBA Award Winners
|2019||Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation|
|2017|| Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress |
Louise Erdrich, author, bookstore owner, and voice for indigenous communities
|2015||Amy King, Poet, professor, and activist|
|2012||Ann Patchett, Author and bookstore owner|
|2010||Masha Hamilton, International journalist, author, women’s activist.|
|2008||Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Author, musician and Rock Bottom Remainders founder|
|2006||Perri Klass, MD, promoter of literacy, and professor of pediatrics|
|2004||Nancy Pearl, Author, librarian, book reviewer, and radio talk show personality.|
|2002||Patricia McKissack, Author|
|2000||Hon. Patricia Schroeder, Former Congresswoman, President and CEO, Assn. of American Publishers|
|1998||Doris Kearns Goodwin, Historian, author|
|1996||Carolyn Heilbrun, Author, feminist scholar|
|1994||Janet Palmer Mullaney, Founder and publisher, literary journal|
|1992||Jessie Carney Smith, Author, librarian|
|1990||Barbara Bush, First Lady, literacy advocate|
|1988||Claire Friedland, Book production specialist|
|1986||Ann Heidbreder Eastman, Bookwoman|
|1984||Effie Lee Morris, Librarian|
|1982||Barbara Tuchman, Author|
|1980||Anne Pellowski, Librarian, author|
|1978||Mary Stahlman Douglas, Book reviewer|
|1976||Frances Neal Cheney, Educator, author|
|Helen Honig Meyer, Publisher|
|Barbara Ringer, Lawyer, Register of Copyrights|
|1975||Margaret K. McElderry Children’s book editor|
|1973||Mary Virginia Gaver, Librarian, educator|
|1972||Ursula Nordstrom, Children’s book editor|
|1971||Augusta Baker, School and public librarian|
|1970||Charlemae Hill Rollins, Librarian, author|
|1969||Victoria S. Johnson, Public relations professional|
|1968||Ruth Hill Viguers, Librarian, author|
|1967||Mildred L. Batchelder, Children’s librarian|
|1966||Blanche W. Knopf, Publisher|
|1965||Virginia Mathews, School library consultant|
|1964||Polly Goodwin, Children’s book reviewer|
|1963||Rachel Carson, Author|
|1962||Catherine Drinker Bowen, Author|
|1961||Eleanor Roosevelt, Former First Lady; author|
|1960||Pearl Buck, Author|
|1959||May Hill Arbuthnot, Editor, critic|
|Marchette Chute, Author|
|1958||Edith Hamilton, Author|
|1957||Anne J. Richter, Editor|
|1956||Mary Ellen Chase, Author|
|1955||Fanny Butcher, Book reviewer|
|Bertha Mahoney Miller Editor|
|1954||Elizabeth Gray Vining, Author, teacher|
|1953||Lillian C. Gurney, Bookseller|
|1952||Margaret C. Scroggin, Young people’s librarian|
|1951||Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Author|
|1950||May Massee, Children’s book editor|
|1949||Lucile Micheels Pannell, Bookseller|
|1948||May Lamberton Becker, Book reviewer|
|1947||Emily P. Street, Book sales and advertising|
|1946||Amy Loveman, Editor|
|1945||Lillian Smith, Author|
|1944||Mildred C. Smith, Editor|
|1943||Mary Graham Bonner, Author|
|1942||Irita Van Doren, Book review editor|
|1941||Blair Niles, Author|
|1940||Anne Caroll Moore, Librarian|