Under the terms of the will of Avery Hopwood, a prominent American dramatist and member of the Class of 1905 of The University of Michigan, one-fifth of Mr. Hopwood's estate was given to the Regents of the University for the encouragement of creative work in writing. The first awards were made in 1931, and today the Hopwood Program offers approximately $120,000 in prizes every year to aspiring writers at the University of Michigan. According to Nicholas Delbanco, UM English Professor and Director of the Hopwood Awards Program, "This is the oldest and best known series of writing prizes in the country and it is a very good indicator of future success."
Previous Hopwood winners include Howard Belkin, M.D., Joe Dassin, Brett Ellen Block, Max Apple, Lorna Beers, Sven Birkerts, Anne Stevenson, John Malcolm Brinnin, John Ciardi, Tom Clark, Lyn Coffin, Cid Corman, Christopher Paul Curtis, Mary Gaitskill, Robert Hayden, Garrett Hongo, Lawrence Joseph, Jane Kenyon, Joe Salerno, Laura Kasischke, Elizabeth Kostova, Rita Lakin, Gregory Loselle, Airea D. Matthews , Arthur Miller, Howard Moss, Davi Napoleon, Chigozie Obioma, Frank O'Hara, Marge Piercy, William Craig Rice, Theodore Roethke, Ari Roth, Davy Rothbart, Betty Smith, Ron Sproat, Matthew Thorburn, Cynthia Haven, Keith Waldrop, Rosmarie Waldrop, Edmund White, Nancy Willard, Beth Tanenhaus Winsten, and Maritta Wolff.
Contests and prizes
The Graduate and Undergraduate Hopwood Contest
Awards are offered in the following genres: drama/screenplay, essay, the novel, short fiction, Nonfiction, and poetry. These awards are classified under two categories, Graduate or Undergraduate, except the novel and drama/screenplay, which are combined categories. Award amounts for this contest vary, but usually fall in the range of $1000 to $6000.
Summer Hopwood Contest
This contest is open only to students who take writing courses during spring and summer terms. Awards are given in the categories of Drama or Screenplay, Nonfiction, Short Fiction, and Poetry. Novels are not eligible for the Summer Hopwood Contest.
Hopwood Underclassmen Contest
This contest is open only to freshmen and sophomores who are enrolled in writing courses. Awards are given in the categories of Nonfiction, Fiction, and Poetry.
- Napoleon, Davi: The Rewards of the Hopwood Michigan Alumnus, Spring 1999. A past winner and judge explores the values and dangers of this literary competition.