Byron Caldwell Smith Book Awards

Byron Caldwell Smith Book Awards

These awards are given biennially to one individual in each of three categories, residing or employed in Kansas, who has authored an outstanding book published within the two calendar years preceding the application deadline. One $750 award for fiction, one $750 award for non-fiction, and one $750 award for poetry is given each competition cycle. The recipients receive their awards at a public presentation and reception held at the Hall Center.

The Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award was established at the bequest of Kate Stephens, a former University of Kansas student and one of the University's first women professors. As an undergraduate at the University of Kansas, Stephens learned to love the study of Greek language and literature from Professor Byron Caldwell Smith. She established this award in his name.

DEADLINE: TBD - The next application cycle will be spring 2025

Self-nominations are allowed.  Eligibility criteria are as follows:

1. It must be an original work authored or co-authored by the nominee.

2. The author must be a resident of Kansas or employed in Kansas at both the time of publication and the time of nomination.  

3. If a work is co-authored, only the author nominated for the award must fulfill the residency requirements. 

4. Translations are eligible. 

5. Edited works are not eligible.

6. The submission must have an original publication date within the two calendar years immediately preceding the year of the competition deadline.  For example, to be eligible for the 2025 deadline, the nominee's book must have a publication date of either 2023 or 2024.  

7. The year of publication will be determined by the date that appears in the copyright notice of the published book, unless documentation can be provided to prove the actual release date was otherwise. 

8. Previous awardees are eligible to submit a new book.


Awardees are required to give a public talk on the subject of the book, to be delivered on the KU-Lawrence campus during the Fall semester following the award announcement.


All nomination materials must be submitted through the Hall Center Competitions Portal.  Paper submissions will not be accepted.  For a nomination to be verified as complete, and thus forwarded for committee review, nominators must:

1. Create an account or log in to an existing account.

2. Select the "Apply Now" button next to this competition. 

3. Complete the Information Form in the Portal. This form includes a selection of Fiction or Non-Fiction category. Each nomination must choose a category. Each book is eligible for only one category; works that straddle genres can only be considered in one of the genre categories.

4. Upload a Letter of Nomination, as a PDF or Word file.  Self-nominations are allowed. The letter must describe the quality of the publication for which he or she is being nominated and a statement verifying the nominee's eligibility.

5. Send three non-returnable copies of the nominee's book to the following address:  Hall Center for the Humanities, ATTN: Byron Caldwell Smith Award Committee, 900 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS  66045.  Mailing date should be sufficiently in advance to ensure that copies arrive prior to the deadline.  Copies may also be dropped off at the Hall Center. 

No extraneous materials will be considered.


A committee of distinguished authors from Kansas appointed by the Hall Center Director selects award recipients. The work must meet at least one of the criteria set forth by the Stephens Bequest in 1938 to the New York Community Trust for the University of Kansas:

"that man or woman . . . whose book or books written in the mother tongue of Americans, now called the English language ... of originality and superiority in conception and execution, and of taste, proportion and outstanding scholarship   . . . in the fields of imaginative literature-such as lyric or dramatic poetry . . . [or] a book of belletristic essays . . . a book presenting phases of history, or biography or setting forth humanistic views in law, in medicine or other science."


An interdisciplinary panel of Kansas authors and faculty from universities in Kansas select the awardees.  The Hall Center Director brings together a unique panel for each competition.  Reviewers read each entry and meet to discuss the works and determine the awardees. 


Nominators should direct all questions about the Byron Caldwell-Smith Award to Hall Center Assistant Director Andrew Hodgson (