PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award. Book submissions will not be considered unless officially submitted via the online form AND received at the PEN America New York office with the corresponding Declaration of Eligibility.

The PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography is awarded for excellence in the art of biography. The winning title should be a work of exceptional literary, narrative and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research. The prize of $5,000 will go to the author of a distinguished work published in the United States during the previous calendar year. Click to view past winners of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography »

All winners and finalists for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official winner or finalist seal. If you are a publisher of a shortlisted or winning book for this award and are interested in obtaining PEN America’s award seal, please write to [email protected].

For more information, please visit our FAQ page.



Submissions for the 2020 awards cycle will be accepted from June 1, 2019, through August 15, 2019. 


  • A candidate’s book of nonfiction must have been published by a trade publisher in the United States between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019.
  • Candidates need not be U.S. residents.
  • Books must be works by an author about another person.
  • If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN America Literary Award, with the exception of the PEN Open Book Award. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner is not considered a PEN America Literary Award.

NOT Eligible:

  • Self-published books
  • Memoir or autobiography


submission guidelines 

  • PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award.
  • Please download the Declaration of Eligibility. Complete all fields and have a company executive sign in order to confirm the book’s eligibility. If eligible, please upload the form along with the rest of your application below. If the book does not meet all of the listed eligibility requirements, the book will not be considered for this award.
  • Each submission is $85*. If you would like to pay by check, please enter CHECK in the coupon code field at checkout. Checks should be made out to PEN America. Please also submit a verified email address on the submission form; your order cannot be processed without an email address, as this info will be used to later contact you regarding the shipments of your submission. Please note that submission fees are not refundable.
  • Mail one copy of the candidate’s book to the address below between June 1, 2019, and August 15, 2019. Please note that we do accept galleys and bound manuscripts:

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
PEN America
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012

  • Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN America, you will be contacted by [email protected] before the end of the year and be asked to ship one copy of the book to each of our three awards judges. Please be sure to add [email protected]  to your safe sender list.

*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $2 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press’ annual net sales are less than $2 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at check-out in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2020 PEN America Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.