Arago: Exhibits

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Literary Reward Recipients

The contributions of women authors were often overlooked by prestigious literary awards such as the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, women such as Edith Wharton, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Marguerite Higgins broke into the literary canon, becoming the first women to win major literary awards.

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) proved to be one of the most prominent female authors of the early twentieth century. Her short stories and novels often critiqued the social conventions of the upper class society to which she belonged. In 1920 she wrote one of her most celebrated novels, The Age of Innocence, which examined the lives of elite socialites in New York. In 1921 she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize when she received the award for The Age of Innocence.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) became the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1923 for her work, The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver: A Few Figs from Thistles: Eight Sonnets in American Poetry. Common themes of her work include the struggle between life and death, love, and anti-fascism. Although best known as a poet, Millay also wrote well known plays such as The Lamp and the Bell in 1921. In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, Millay was also elected to join the prestigious and highly selective National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1929.

Marguerite Higgins (1920-1966) is one of the most accomplished female war correspondents from the mid twentieth century. During World War II she covered the liberation of the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps while working for the New York Herald Tribune. She then went on to become the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 1951 for her coverage of the Korean War and continued as a reporter during the Vietnam War.

The Marguerite Higgins stamp is part of the Women in Journalism Issue and was designed by Fred Otnes. The stamp contains a picture of Higgins that appeared in her 1951 book, War in Korea. To the right of her picture, is the word Korea, that was taken from the map on the inside back cover of War in Korea. To the left of her picture, is a New York Herald Tribune nameplate from September 17, 1950.

15c Edith Wharton single

This 15-cent stamp was issued in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1980. The stamp was designed by Bradberry Thompson for the American Literary Arts Series and contains a 1905 photograph of Wharton.

37c Marguerite Higgins single

This 37-cent stamp was issued September 14, 2002 in Fort Worth, Texas, at a meeting of the National Convention of Professional Journalists.

United States Master Collection, Scott 1926

This 18-cent stamp was issued on July 10, 1981, in Austerlitz, New York, for part of the Literary Arts Series. The stamp was designed by Glenora Case Richards, and has a head portrait of Millay on it.