About the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award
In 1945, when the Mystery Writers of America was just being formed, the founders of the organization decided to give an award for the best first American mystery novel, as well as awards for the best and worst mystery reviews of the year. Initially they were going to call it the Edmund Wilson Memorial Award (partly in revenge for Wilson ’s disdain for the genre), but calmer heads prevailed. Although it is unknown exactly who came up with the idea of naming the award for “the Father of the Detective Story,” it was an immediate success, and the “Edgar” was created.
The first Edgar Award was bestowed in 1946 on Julian Fast for his debut novel, Watchful at Night, and in the more than fifty years since, the stylized ceramic bust of the great author has become one of the top prizes in the field of mystery fiction. The award categories, in addition to Best First Novel, have been expanded over time to include Best Novel, Best Short Story, Best Paperback Original, Best Young Adult Novel, Best Juvenile Novel, Best Fact Crime, Best Critical/Biographical, Best Play, Best Television Episode, and Best Motion Picture. The Edgar has been won by many noted authors in the field, including Stuart Kaminsky, Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker, Jan Burke, Lisa Scottoline, Laura Lippman, Laurie R. King, Steve Hamilton, Peter Robinson, Edward D. Hoch, S. J. Rozan, Thomas H. Cook, Joseph Wambaugh, Jeffery Deaver, Rupert Holmes, Anne Perry, Patricia Cornwell, Ira Levin, Thomas Harris, Dick Francis, Ruth Rendell, Lawrence Block, Elmore Leonard, Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, Harlan Ellison, and many, many others.