April 21, 2011 — The University of Virginia is one of five universities whose creative writing programs have been chosen to award a Henfield Prize for the best work of fiction written by one of their graduate students..
The first U. Va. Henfield Prize will be awarded this summer to a student enrolled as of May 15 in the University's master of fine arts program in creative writing. An outside judge will select the winner based on manuscripts submitted anonymously. The name of the winner and of the judge will be announced on or near Aug. 1.
The other four schools that will also award Henfield prizes from 2011 forward are Columbia University, University of California at Irvine, University of Iowa and University of Michigan. All five schools' creative writing programs have been highly rated in several rankings.
The $10,000 annual prize is being established at U.Va. with a $300,000 endowment from the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation.
The Henfield Prize, established in 1980 by the late literary editor, agent and art collector Joseph McCrindle, is one of the most prestigious individual prizes available to promising authors. Well-known recipients include Jonathan Ames, Ethan Canin, Jennifer Coke, Harriet Doerr, Sue Miller, A.M. Homes, Walter Mosley, Ann Patchett and Mona Simpson.
"The Henfield Prize is a wonderful way to recognize the very best fiction by our MFA students, as well as a rare opportunity to help support emerging writers as they move from graduate school to a lifetime of writing," said Jeb Livingood, associate director of U.Va.'s Creative Writing Program, part of the English department in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Two U.Va. students, Mark Dewey and Daniel Mueller, won the award in 1989 and 1990, respectively. Each had a short story published in the 1992 collection, "The Henfield Prize Stories." Two other U.Va. M.F.A. students, Lynn Hamilton and Doug Lawson, won the prize in 1995.
The Creative Writing Program has prior connections to McCrindle: He and the late George Garrett were founding editors of a new literary journal, the Transatlantic Review, in 1959 when the two were at the American Academy in Rome. Garrett joined the U.Va. English department in 1962 as its first permanent creative writer and taught here until 1967. He served as the poetry editor of the Transatlantic Review until 1971. It continued publication until 1977 and was devoted to finding and promoting new talent.
Garrett returned to the U.Va. English department as the Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing in 1984 and retired in 2000. He and McCrindle remained friends until 2008, the year both died.