Presenter of the National Book Awards

Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

The National Book Foundation's Medal for
Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

The National Book Foundation was established in 1988 to enhance the visibility of The National Book Awards, begun in 1950 -- and to move beyond the Awards into the fields of education and literacy, presenting literary programs across the country, Award-winners and Finalists talking about their "writing life." To date, thanks to the sustained support of the publishing industry and the public and private sectors, the Foundation has sponsored more than one hundred authors in thirty-eight states, in schools, libraries, community centers, museums, settlement houses, and Native American reservations.

Every fall, in conjunction with the conferring of The National Book Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature, the Board of Directors of the Foundation also presents a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which comes with $10,000. The recipient is a person who has enriched our literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work.

2000

RAY BRADBURY
> Read Speech
> Introduction by Steve Martin

1999

OPRAH WINFREY
> Read Speech

> Introduction by Neil Baldwin


1998

JOHN UPDIKE
> Read Speech
> Introduction by Paul LeClerc


1997

STUDS TERKEL
> Read Speech

> Introduction by Don Logan

1996

Toni Morrison
TONI MORRISON
> Read Speech

 

1995

David McCullough
DAVID McCULLOUGH
> Read Speech

 

1994


GWENDOLYN BROOKS

(speech not available)

 

1993

Clifton Fadiman

CLIFTON FADIMAN
> Read Speech
> Introduction by Al Silverman

 

1992

James Laughlin
JAMES LAUGHLIN
> Read Speech

 

1991

Eudora Welty
EUDORA WELTY
> Read Speech


1990

SAUL BELLOW

 

1989

DANIEL BOORSTIN


1988

JASON EPSTEIN


Photo Credits: Arthur Miller, Inge Morath; David McCullough, Robin Platzer/Twin Images; Ray Bradbury, Robin Platzer/Twin Images; John Updike, Martha Updike; Studs Terkel, Robin Platzer; Toni Morrison, Robin Platzer; Clifton Fadiman, Robin Platzer; Eudora Welty, Robin Platzer; Philip Roth, Nancy Crampton; Oprah Winfrey, Robin Platzer; Adrienne Rich, Lilian Kemp. Joan Didion, Brigitte Lacombe. Maxine Hong Kingston, Gail K. Evenari. Gore Vidal, Stathis Orphanos. Tom Wolfe, Nancy Crampton. John Ashbery, Lynn Davis. E. L. Doctorow, Francesca Magnani