The Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame was created to recognize Kentucky writers whose work reflects the character and culture of our commonwealth, and to educate Kentuckians about our state’s rich literary heritage. For a writer to have been eligible this year, they must be 1) published; 2) someone whose writing is of enduring stature; and 3) someone connected in a significant way to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Inductees are chosen by committees at the Carnegie Center and the Kentucky Arts Council that include some of Kentucky's well-known writers. Nominations are accepted from the public. To nominate someone, email a nomination letter here.

Special thanks to the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame sponsors: Kentucky Arts Council, LexArts, Charles & Linda Gorton, WUKY, Kentucky Monthly, Kentucky Theatre, Community Trust Bank, Central Bank, and Kentucky Educational Television.

Photo by Tom Eblen
Portrait of Loyal Jones, '54. Jones is an accomplished author, Appalachian scholar, and the former Director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College which was renamed the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center in his honor. Taken 20100415.


Photo by Forrest Clonts
Photo by Terry Price
Photo: Alex Remnick/Random House
Photo: UK Special Collections


Sena Jeter Naslund at her home on Louisville’s St. James Court, 2019. Photo by Tom Eblen.
Undated portrait. Photo courtesy of Yale University.
Sam Shepard in Steel Magnolias, 1989. Photo by Rastar Films.

2018 Inductees

Annie Fellows Johnston
bell hooks
John Fox, Jr.
Walter Tevis

2017 Inductees

Irvin S. Cobb
Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr.
A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
Gayl Jones
Barbara Kingsolver

2016 Inductees

Bobbie Ann Mason
Harlan Hubbard
James Lane Allen
Alice Hegan Rice
Jean Ritchie

2015 Inductees

Wendell Berry
Guy Davenport
Elizabeth Hardwick
Jim Wayne Miller
Effie Waller Smith
Hunter S. Thompson

2014 Inductees

Rebecca Caudill
Thomas D. Clark
Janice Holt Giles
James Baker Hall
Etheridge Knight
Thomas Merton
Jesse Stuart

2013 Inductees

Harriette Arnow
William Wells Brown
Harry Caudill
Elizabeth Maddox Roberts
James Still
Robert Penn Warren

Kentucky Literary Impact Award

The Kentucky Literary Impact Award recognizes someone who has made great contributions to the state’s literary culture, but not necessarily as a writer.  The award was inaugurated in 2020 and will be made only occasionally.

Gray Zeitz
Gray Zeitz
Gray Zeitz

We hope to see you soon at the Carnegie Center, home to writers, lifelong learners, & the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

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