Skip to Content

Maxwell E. Perkins Award

“…the recognizing, the encouraging, the guiding of talent—that, in his opinion, was a sacred task worth any amount of effort, of risk, of time expended.”

— JH Wheelock on Maxwell Perkins

In 2005 the Center for Fiction established the Maxwell E. Perkins Award to honor the work of an editor, publisher, or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured and championed writers of fiction in the United States. This award is dedicated to Maxwell Perkins in celebration of his legacy as one of the country’s most important editors.

The final selection is made by a panel of publishing professionals convened by The Center. The award is intended to provide a means by which the literary world can each year acknowledge the critical role played by agents, editors, and publishers and reward their outstanding work.


Congratulations to Sonny Mehta, Chairman & Editor in Chief, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, on receiving the 2018 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction.

The award was presented to Mr. Mehta at the Center’s December 11 Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City. Upon the announcement Mr. Mehta said: “I am honored to be receiving this award and humbled by the list of its previous winners.”

Maxwell Evarts Perkins


Maxwell Evarts Perkins

Maxwell Evarts Perkins began his career in 1907 as a reporter for the New York Times, but soon moved to a position as advertising manager at the prestigious publishing house, Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York. In 1914 an opening in the editorial department led to Perkins promotion and the beginning of his stellar career in the field of fiction. His first major discovery came five years later when a young writer by the name of F. Scott Fitzgerald started corresponding with the house. Fitzgerald’s first book This Side of Paradise heralded a shift in the style of the time, and made the young writer famous. Perkins soon rose to prominence as an editor with impeccable taste as he signed Ernest Hemingway on to the company. Thomas Wolfe rounded out Perkins’ triumvirate and became a close friend of the editor’s. Sadly Perkins was cut down by a sudden death at the age of 62, but his legacy lives on in the many books he helped shape. Learn more about our previous award recipients here.