Creative Nonfiction Grant
Intensely researched nonfiction books, written with an artful sensitivity to complexity and nuance, have always been important in shaping the way we understand the world; today they are essential.
In recent years many extraordinary writers have contributed crucial works extending the form: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies, Claudia Rankine's Citizen: A Lyric, Olivia Laing's The Lonely City, Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing, Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House, Ada Ferrer's Cuba, Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries, Andrea Elliot's Invisible Child, Saidiya Hartman's Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, and Katherine Rundel's Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne, to name just a few examples.
Such projects require a wealth of time and resources. The path to a groundbreaking book is long and intensive, and the research process is unpredictable—even a generous advance from a supportive publisher may run out just as a writer unearths an essential piece of the story she’s trying to tell, something transformative that leads to new questions.
Recognizing this challenge to the creation of such exemplary works of literature, the Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant’s chief objective is to foster original, ambitious projects brought to the highest possible standard. Knowing that writers of color often face additional structural hurdles to securing institutional resources to support such projects, we particularly encourage applications from them.
Explore previous grant winners here.
The application window for the 2023 Creative Nonfiction Grant is closed. Applications were due April 25, 2023.
The guidelines below are for reference only. Guidelines for the 2024 cycle will be available in February 2024.
The 2023 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant of $40,000 will be awarded to as many as ten writers in the process of completing a book-length work of deeply researched and imaginatively composed nonfiction for a general readership. It is intended for multiyear book projects requiring large amounts of deep and focused research, thinking, and writing at a crucial point mid-process, after significant work has been accomplished but when an extra infusion of support can make a difference in the ultimate shape and quality of the work.
Whiting welcomes applications for works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, science, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, graphic nonfiction, and personal essays, among other categories. Again, the work should be intended for a general, not academic, adult reader. Self-help titles, historical fiction, textbooks, books primarily for a scholarly audience, and books for young readers are not eligible. Examples of the wide range of previous grantees can be found here.
Projects must be under contract with a publisher in Canada, the UK, or the US by April 25 to be eligible. Contracts with self-publishing companies are not eligible.
Writers must submit the following materials via an online application form by 11:59pm ET on Tuesday, April 25:
- The original proposal that led to the contract with a publisher
- Up to 25,000 words from your draft. Please submit complete draft chapters, rather than short excerpts from across your book, to the extent the word count allows
- A statement of work yet to be completed
- A plan for use of funds
- A signed and dated contract (please note that to be eligible, books must be under contract with a Canadian, UK, or US publisher – unfortunately, we can make no exceptions to this requirement)
- A current resume
- A list of grants, fellowships, or other funding received for the book
- A letter of support from your publisher or editor
Each project under submission will have two first-round readers who will evaluate for substance and execution (while understanding that they are reading a work in progress). Finalists will be considered by a separate panel of judges who will evaluate for need in addition to substance and execution. Readers and judges will consist of experts in the field and will serve anonymously to shield them from any external pressures. The grantees will be announced in the fall.
The Foundation hosted two online information sessions to answer questions and offer guidance on applying for the grant. You can view recordings of the info sessions by clicking the dates below:
If you have any questions about the eligibility of your project or the application process, please contact the Whiting Foundation at email@example.com.
Regardless of eligibility for this grant, Whiting encourages nonfiction writers at all stages of the writing process to consult the Poets & Writers’ Writing Contests, Grants & Awards database for other opportunities for support.
Nonfiction authors with books under contract with a publisher might also consider applying to the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards.
A few opportunities open to nonfiction writers not under contract with a publisher include:
- AWP Sue William Silverman Prize for Creative Nonfiction
- Cullman Center Fellowships at the NYPL
- Gournay Prize from Ohio State University Press
- Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize
- Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowships
- NEH Public Scholars program
- NEH Fellowships
- Silvers Grants for Works in Progress
- Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award