The Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography— 1917 to Present

One of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded. It has been presented since 1917 for a distinguished biography or autobiography by an American author or co-authors, published during the preceding calendar year.

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama | The Pulitzer Prize for History | The Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography | The Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction | The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry | The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Prize Winners By Year


2017. The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between

Hisham Matar | 4.18 avg rating — 2,908 ratings

2016. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

William Finnegan | 4.17 avg rating — 7,996 ratings

2015. The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe

David I. Kertzer | 4.07 avg rating — 1,130 ratings

2014. Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

Megan Marshall | 3.82 avg rating — 803 ratings

2013. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Tom Reiss | 3.98 avg rating — 10,262 ratings

2012. George F. Kennan: An American Life

John Lewis Gaddis | 4.06 avg rating — 1,394 ratings

2011. Washington: A Life

Ron Chernow | 4.09 avg rating — 31,277 ratings

2010. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

T.J. Stiles | 3.93 avg rating — 4,020 ratings

2009. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

Jon Meacham | 3.77 avg rating — 33,933 ratings

2008. Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father

John Matteson | 3.96 avg rating — 1,188 ratings

2007. The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

Debby Applegate | 3.89 avg rating — 741 ratings

2006. American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Kai Bird | 4.15 avg rating — 8,792 ratings

2005. De Kooning: An American Master

Mark Stevens | 4.10 avg rating — 2,467 ratings

2004. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

William Taubman | 3.99 avg rating — 862 ratings

2003. Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #3)

Robert A. Caro | 4.41 avg rating — 12,135 ratings

2002. John Adams

David McCullough | 4.05 avg rating — 225,798 ratings

2001. W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919–1963

David Levering Lewis | 4.07 avg rating — 376 ratings

2000. Vera

Stacy Schiff | 3.85 avg rating — 961 ratings

1999. Lindbergh

A. Scott Berg | 4.11 avg rating — 2,779 ratings

1998. Personal History

Katharine Graham | 4.13 avg rating — 14,595 ratings

1997. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt, #1)

Frank McCourt | 4.08 avg rating — 426,912 ratings

1996. God: A Biography

Jack Miles | 3.90 avg rating — 1,978 ratings

1995. Harriet Beecher Stowe

Joan D. Hedrick | 3.91 avg rating — 93 ratings

1994. W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868–1919

David Levering Lewis | 4.33 avg rating — 1,725 ratings

1993. Truman

David McCullough | 4.13 avg rating — 57,804 ratings

1992. Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet

Lewis B. Puller Jr. | 4.09 avg rating — 565 ratings

1991. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga

Gregory White Smith | 4.14 avg rating — 1,053 ratings

1990. Machiavelli in Hell

Sebastian De Grazia | 3.75 avg rating — 188 ratings

1989. Oscar Wilde

Richard Ellmann | 4.23 avg rating — 2,737 ratings

1988. Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe

David Herbert Donald | 4.05 avg rating — 110 ratings

1987. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, JR., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

David J. Garrow | 4.29 avg rating — 1,501 ratings

1986. Louise Bogan: A Portrait

Elizabeth Frank | 4.17 avg rating — 6 ratings

1985. The Life and Times of Cotton Mather

Kenneth Silverman | 3.90 avg rating — 62 ratings

1984. Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901–1915

Louis R. Harlan | 3.81 avg rating — 21 ratings

1983. Growing Up

Russell Baker | 4.07 avg rating — 5,475 ratings

1982. Grant: A Biography

William S. McFeely | 4.02 avg rating — 1,406 ratings

1981. Peter the Great: His Life and World

Robert K. Massie | 4.23 avg rating — 9,589 ratings

1980. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Edmund Morris | 4.25 avg rating — 29,038 ratings

1979. Days of Sorrow and Pain: Leo Baeck and the Berlin Jews

Leonard Baker | 4.00 avg rating — 10 ratings

1978. Samuel Johnson

Walter Jackson Bate | 4.20 avg rating — 148 ratings

1977. A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Lawrence

John E. Mack | 4.16 avg rating — 268 ratings

1976. Edith Wharton

R.W.B. Lewis | 4.07 avg rating — 291 ratings

1975. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

Robert A. Caro | 4.49 avg rating — 8,049 ratings

1974. O’Neill: Son and Artist

Louis Sheaffer | 4.26 avg rating — 23 ratings

1973. Luce and His Empire

W.A. Swanberg | 3.45 avg rating — 20 ratings

1972. Eleanor and Franklin

Joseph P. Lash | 4.24 avg rating — 2,286 ratings

1971. Robert Frost: The Years of Triumph, 1915–1938

Lawrance Thompson | 3.92 avg rating — 12 ratings

1970. Huey Long

T. Harry Williams | 4.19 avg rating — 1,327 ratings

1969. The Man from New York: John Quinn and His Friends

Benjamin Lawrence Reid | 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating

1968. Memoirs, 1925–1950

George F. Kennan | 4.24 avg rating — 195 ratings

1967. Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography

Justin Kaplan | 3.96 avg rating — 253 ratings

1966. A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. | 4.14 avg rating — 5,191 ratings

1965. Henry Adams: The Middle Years

Ernest Samuels | 3.83 avg rating — 6 ratings

1965. Henry Adams

Ernest Samuels | 4.08 avg rating — 13 ratings

1964. John Keats

Walter Jackson Bate | 4.20 avg rating — 122 ratings

1963. Henry James: A Life

Leon Edel | 4.24 avg rating — 193 ratings

1961. Charles Sumner and The Coming of the Civil War

David Herbert Donald | 3.93 avg rating — 132 ratings

1960. John Paul Jones: A Sailor’s Biography

Samuel Eliot Morison | 4.08 avg rating — 170 ratings

1959. Woodrow Wilson

Arthur Walworth | 4.12 avg rating — 16 ratings

1958. George Washington (Vol 4): Leader of the Revolution

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.64 avg rating — 14 ratings

1958. Washington

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.28 avg rating — 239 ratings

1958. George Washington (Vol 1): Young Washington

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.59 avg rating — 22 ratings

1958. George Washington (Vol 6): Patriot and President, 1784–93

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.79 avg rating — 14 ratings

1958. George Washington (Vol 3): Planter and Patriot

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.53 avg rating — 15 ratings

1958. George Washington (Vol 2): Young Washington

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.56 avg rating — 18 ratings

1958. George Washington: A Biography : Victory With the Help of France (1778–83 Vol. 5)

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.56 avg rating — 16 ratings

1957. Profiles in Courage

John F. Kennedy | 3.90 avg rating — 8,549 ratings

1956. Benjamin Henry Latrobe

Talbot Faulkner Hamlin | 4.50 avg rating — 2 ratings

1955. The Taft Story

William S. White | 3.00 avg rating — 6 ratings

1954. The Spirit of St. Louis

Charles A. Lindbergh | 4.12 avg rating — 1,051 ratings

1953. Edmund Pendleton, 1721–1803: A Biography

David J. Mays | 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings

1952. Charles Evans Hughes

Merlo J. Pusey | 4.00 avg rating — 5 ratings

1951. John C. Calhoun: American Portrait

Margaret L. Coit | 4.03 avg rating — 29 ratings

1950. John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy

Samuel Flagg Bemis | 4.22 avg rating — 23 ratings

1949. Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History

Robert E. Sherwood | 4.28 avg rating — 61 ratings

1948. Forgotten First Citizen: John Bigelow

Margaret Clapp | 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating

1947. The Autobiography of William Allen White

William Allen White | 4.16 avg rating — 25 ratings

1946. Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir

Linnie Marsh Wolfe | 4.12 avg rating — 148 ratings

1945. George Bancroft, Brahmin Rebel

Russel B. Nye | 3.25 avg rating — 4 ratings

1944. The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel F.B. Morse

Mabee Carleton | 3.17 avg rating — 12 ratings

1943. Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus

Samuel Eliot Morison | 4.06 avg rating — 258 ratings

1942. Crusader in Crinoline: The Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Robert Forrest Wilson | 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating

1941. Jonathan Edwards: 1703–1758

Ola Elizabeth Winslow | 3.50 avg rating — 2 ratings

1940. Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters

Ray Stannard Baker | 3.75 avg rating — 4 ratings

1939. Benjamin Franklin

Carl Van Doren | 4.16 avg rating — 235 ratings

1938. Pedlar’s Progress: The Life of Bronson Alcott

Odell Shepard | 3.92 avg rating — 13 ratings

1938. Andrew Jackson: Portrait of a President

Marquis James | 4.00 avg rating — 14 ratings

1938. The Life of Andrew Jackson

Marquis James | 3.82 avg rating — 28 ratings

1937. Hamilton Fish: The Inner History of the Grant Administration

Allan Nevins | 4.00 avg rating — 2 ratings

1936. The Thought and Character of William James

Ralph Barton Perry | 4.00 avg rating — 7 ratings

1935. R. E. Lee: A Biography Volume II

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.71 avg rating — 62 ratings

1935. R. E. Lee: A Biography Volume III

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.69 avg rating — 62 ratings

1935. R. E. Lee: A Biography Volume IV

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.73 avg rating — 55 ratings

1935. R. E. Lee: A Biography Volume II

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.71 avg rating — 62 ratings

1935. R. E. Lee: A Biography Volume III

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.69 avg rating — 62 ratings

1935. R. E. Lee: A Biography Volume IV

Douglas Southall Freeman | 4.73 avg rating — 55 ratings

1934. John Hay: From Poetry to Politics

Tyler Dennett | 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating

1933. To the Loss of the Presidency (Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage, Vol 1)

Allan Nevins | 3.86 avg rating — 21 ratings

1932. Theodore Roosevelt

Henry F. Pringle | 3.68 avg rating — 118 ratings

1931. Charles W. Eliot: President Of Harvard University, 1869–1909

Henry James | 3.50 avg rating — 2 ratings

1930. The Raven: A Biography of Sam Houston

Marquis James | 4.01 avg rating — 209 ratings

1929. The Training of an American: The Earlier Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, 1855–1913

Burton J. Hendrick | 2.00 avg rating — 1 rating

1928. The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas

Charles Edward Russell | 3.00 avg rating — 2 ratings

1927. Whitman: An Interpretation in Narrative

Emory Holloway | 4.00 avg rating — 4 ratings

1926. The Life Of Sir William Osler: 2 Volumes

Harvey Williams Cushing | 4.14 avg rating — 7 ratings

1925. Barrett Wendell & His Letters

Barrett Wendell | 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings

1924. From Immigrant to Inventor

Michael Pupin | 4.38 avg rating — 112 ratings

1923. The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page

Burton J. Hendrick | 4.00 avg rating — 1 rating

1922. A Daughter of the Middle Border

Hamlin Garland | 3.68 avg rating — 37 ratings

1921. The Americanization of Edward Bok

Edward Bok | 3.93 avg rating — 87 ratings

1920. The Life of John Marshall: 4 Vols in 2

Albert J. Beveridge | 4.00 avg rating — 4 ratings

1919. The Education of Henry Adams

Henry Adams | 3.70 avg rating — 2,574 ratings

1918. Benjamin Franklin, Self-Revealed

William Cabell Bruce | 4.00 avg rating — 4 ratings

Nominees By Year (1980 — Present)

2017. When Breath Becomes Air

Paul Kalanithi | 4.32 avg rating — 180,613 ratings

2017. In the Darkroom

Susan Faludi | 3.93 avg rating — 1,868 ratings

2016. The Light of the World

Elizabeth Alexander | 4.03 avg rating — 5,792 ratings

2015. Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928

Stephen Kotkin | 4.24 avg rating — 608 ratings

2015. Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism

Thomas Brothers | 3.79 avg rating — 52 ratings

2014. Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life

Jonathan Sperber | 3.93 avg rating — 429 ratings

2014. Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World

Leo Damrosch | 4.08 avg rating — 132 ratings

2013. Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece

Michael Gorra | 4.26 avg rating — 254 ratings

2013. The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

David Nasaw | 4.04 avg rating — 2,908 ratings

2009. The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century

Steve Coll | 3.94 avg rating — 1,299 ratings

2009. Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

H.W. Brands | 4.03 avg rating — 5,341 ratings

1999. A Beautiful Mind

Sylvia Nasar | 4.12 avg rating — 103,161 ratings

1998. Whittaker Chambers: A Biography

Sam Tanenhaus | 4.19 avg rating — 358 ratings

1998. Alfred C. Kinsey: A Life

James Howard Jones | 3.78 avg rating — 92 ratings

1997. Herman Melville: A Biography (Volume 1, 1819–1851)

Hershel Parker | 4.24 avg rating — 33 ratings

1997. In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

Kim Barnes | 3.84 avg rating — 439 ratings

1996. Mozart

Maynard Solomon | 4.08 avg rating — 776 ratings

1996. John Sloan: Painter and Rebel

John Loughery | 4.00 avg rating — 8 ratings

1995. Saint-Exupéry

Stacy Schiff | 4.00 avg rating — 236 ratings

1995. Hugo Black: A Biography

Roger K. Newman | 3.93 avg rating — 44 ratings

1994. Genet

Edmund White | 4.12 avg rating — 544 ratings

1994. In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding

Deborah Baker | 3.50 avg rating — 10 ratings

1993. Kissinger

Walter Isaacson | 3.93 avg rating — 1,928 ratings

1993. Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

James Gleick | 4.16 avg rating — 15,771 ratings

1991. Alfred I. Du Pont: The Man and His Family

Joseph Frazier Wall | 3.83 avg rating — 12 ratings

1991. The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends, 1880–1918

Patricia O’Toole | 4.17 avg rating — 88 ratings

1990. A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt

Geoffrey C. Ward | 4.60 avg rating — 75 ratings

1990. Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides

Reynolds Price | 3.82 avg rating — 67 ratings

1990. The Road from Coorain: A Woman’s Exquisitely Clear-Sighted Memoir of Growing Up Australian

Jill Ker Conway | 4.04 avg rating — 9,449 ratings

1989. Freud: A Life for Our Time

Peter Gay | 4.11 avg rating — 991 ratings

1988. George Santayana: A Biography

John McCormick | 3.67 avg rating — 6 ratings

1988. Hemingway

Kenneth S. Lynn | 3.93 avg rating — 285 ratings

1987. Murrow: His Life and Times

Ann M. Sperber | 4.07 avg rating — 99 ratings

1987. The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams

Leonard L. Richards | 4.00 avg rating — 16 ratings

1987. Dostoevsky: The Stir of Liberation, 1860–1865

Joseph Frank | 4.50 avg rating — 107 ratings

1986. A Hidden Childhood: A Jewish Girl’s Sanctuary in a French Convent, 1942–1945

Frida Scheps Weinstein | 3.22 avg rating — 9 ratings

1986. George Washington Williams: A Biography

John Hope Franklin | 4.00 avg rating — 10 ratings

1985. The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton

Michael Mott | 4.28 avg rating — 551 ratings

1985. Becoming William James

Howard M. Feinstein | 3.56 avg rating — 9 ratings

1984. Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just

Kenneth R. Manning | 3.76 avg rating — 33 ratings

1984. Thomas Carlyle: A Biography

Fred Kaplan | 3.60 avg rating — 5 ratings

1982. Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt

David McCullough | 4.10 avg rating — 19,377 ratings

1982. Waldo Emerson

Gay Wilson Allen | 3.83 avg rating — 12 ratings

1981. Walter Lippmann and the American Century

Ronald Steel | 4.14 avg rating — 70 ratings

1981. Walt Whitman: A Life

Justin Kaplan | 3.96 avg rating — 196 ratings

1980. Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur

Ernest Samuels | 3.50 avg rating — 8 ratings




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