Established in 1917, the Pulitzer prizes honor excellence in journalism and the arts. Normally 21 Pulitzers are awarded annually in the areas of journalism, letters (books), drama, and music.
For books, prizes are awarded in the following categories:
- For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.
- For a distinguished and appropriately documented book upon the history of the United States.
- For a distinguished and appropriately documented biography or autobiography by an American author.
- For a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author.
- For a distinguished and appropriately documented book of nonfiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other category.
The award for poetry was established in 1922, and that for nonfiction in 1962.