Literary Awards

Each year the Texas Institute of Letters awards more than $22,000 to recognize outstanding literary works in several categories. Eligibility for the awards requires that the author be born in Texas or have lived in Texas for at least five consecutive years at some time. A work with subject matter that substantially concerns Texas is also eligible. The years below refer to the eligible first publication date of the annual award.

Call for TIL Contest Entries: Download PDF of 2018 Contest Details and Judges to fill out form for contest entry and to send work to judges. The deadline is January 15, 2019.

Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction ($6,000)

-Bret Anthony Johnston, “Miss McElroy,” Ecotone, 2017.

-David Meischen, “Cicada Song,” Salamander, 2016.

Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction*





Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Nonfiction ($5,000)



Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book ($2,500)



Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Best Book of Poetry ($1,500)



TIL Award for Best First Book of Poetry*



H-E-B/Jean Flynn Award for Best Middle Grade Book ($1,000)



H-E-B Award for Best Young Adult Book ($1,000)



Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translation of a Book ($1,000)

Fred Whitehead Award for Best Design of a Trade Book ($750)





Denton Record-Chronicle Award for Best Picture Book ($1,000)



In addition to the above, the Texas Institute of Letters also recognizes distinguished writers with a career in letters associated with the state through its Lon Tinkle Award. This award is made by the TIL Council from nominations given by the membership.

-Rose Cahalan, “Ride Like a Girl,” The Texas Observer, 2017.

-Stephen Harrigan, “Off Course,” Texas Monthly, 2016.

Kay Cattarulla Award for Best Short Story ($1,000)

Edwin "Bud" Shrake Award for Best Short Nonfiction ($1,000)

Sandra Cisneros, 2018

Pat Mora, 2017

Sarah Bird, 2016

Lawrence Wright, 2015

Jan Reid, 2014

Stephen Harrigan, 2013

Gary Cartwright, 2012

C.W. Smith, 2011**

Larry L. King, 2009

Carolyn Osborn, 2008

David Weber, 2007

William Wittliff, 2006

James Hoggard, 2005

T.R. Fehrenbach, 2004

Bud Shrake, 2003

Shelby Hearon, 2002

William H. Goetzmann, 2001

Leon Hale, 2000

Walt McDonald, 1999

Robert Flynn, 1998

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, 1997

Cormac McCarthy, 1996

William Humphrey, 1995

Americo Paredes, 1994

Horton Foote, 1993

Vassar Miller, 1992

Margaret Cousins, 1991

Marshall Terry, 1990

John Edward Weems, 1989

C.L. Sonnichsen, 1988

A.C. Greene, 1987

Elmer Kelton, 1987

Donald Barthelme, 1985

Larry McMurtry, 1984

William Owens, 1983

John Graves, 1982

Tom Lea, 1981 

Lon Tinkle Award ($1,500)

*After 2016, the names of these literary awards will change to reflect new endowments: Sergio Troncoso Award for Best Work of First Fiction and John A. Robertson Award For Best First Book Of Poetry.

**Beginning in 2011, the Lon Tinkle Award date reflects the actual date of the presentation. For instance, Larry King’s 2009 award was actually presented in 2010.

Sergio Troncoso Award for Best Work of First Fiction ($1,000)

John A. Robertson Award for Best First Book of Poetry ($1,000)