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The Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award

Award for Exceptional Careers in Mystery Writing


Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie was the first recipient of MWA's Grand Master Award

Hulton Archives / Getty Images
Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe

Writer Edgar Allan Poe

MPI / Getty Images
The Edgar Award statue, coveted by mystery writers

The Edgar Award statue, coveted by mystery writers

Matthew Peyton / Getty Images Entertainment

The Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award is given by the MWA each year to honor the exceptional of achievement in the career of mystery writing. The Grand Master Award was established to acknowledge important contributions to the mystery genre, as well as the recipient’s body of mystery writing work as both significant in the field, and of consistently high quality.

The History of the MWA's Grand Master Award
The Grand Master Award was initiated in 1955 when it was bestowed upon Agatha Christie, the prolific and ubiquitous mystery novelist. For a number of years after that, the Grand Master Award was given irregularly, as deemed appropriate, and some years it was not awarded to anyone. Since 1978, the Grand Master Award has been given annually.

On several occasions, the Grand Master Award has been given to more than one person in the same year. In 1973, the award was given to two people, author Judson Philips and the great mystery film director, television producer, progenitor of mystery magazines and book series, and all around master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. In 1978, the Grand Master was awarded to three people, authors Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy B. Hughes, and Daphne DuMaurier. Once again in 2009 two authors shared the award; they were James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton.

The Grand Master Award Today
Though tradition has changed over the years, MWA convention now dictates that the recipient of the Grand Master Award is announced in November of each year (along with the recipients of the Mystery Writers of America’s Ellery Queen and Raven Awards). The Grand Master is then honored at following April’s Annual Edgar Awards Banquet, where he or she gives a speech. (While the Grand Master, Ellery Queen and Raven Award winners are already known, the year’s Edgar Award-winners are announced for the first time at the banquet).

The MWA's Roster of Grand Masters
Following is a list of the mystery writers who have received the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award since it was instituted.

1955 - Agatha Christie

1958 - Vincent Starrett

1959 - Rex Stout

1961 - Ellery Queen
Ellery Queen is the pen name of — as well as the fictional character created by — the writing team of cousins, Frederic Dannay (born Daniel Nathan) and Manfred Bennington Lee.

1962 - Erle Stanley Gardner

1963 - John Dickson Carr

1964 - George Harmon Coxe

1966 - Georges Simenon

1967 - Baynard Kendrick

1969 - John Creasey

1970 - James M. Cain

1971 - Mignon C. Eberhart

1972 - John D. MacDonald

1973 - Alfred Hitchcock and

1973 - Judson Philips

1974 - Ross Macdonald
Ross Macdonald is the nom de plume of Kenneth Millar.

1975 - Eric Ambler

1976 - Graham Greene

1978 - Daphne DuMaurier and

1978 - Dorothy Hughes and

1978 - Ngaio Marsh

1979 - Aaron Marc Stein

1980 - W. R. Burnett

1981 - Stanley Ellin

1982 - Julian Symons

1983 - Margaret Millar

1984 - John Le Carre

1985 - Dorothy Salisbury Davis

1986 - Ed McBain

1987 - Michael Gilbert

1988 - Phyllis A. Whitney

1989 - Hillary Waugh

1990 - Helen McCloy

1991 - Tony Hillerman

1992 - Elmore Leonard

1993 - Donald E. Westlake

1994 - Lawrence Block

1995 - Mickey Spillane

1996 - Dick Francis

1997 - Ruth Rendell

1998 - Barbara Mertz
Barbara Mertz is the real name of the author whose writings are under the pen names of Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels.

1999 - P. D. James

2000 - Mary Higgins Clark

2001 - Edward D. Hoch

2002 - Robert B. Parker

2003 - Ira Levin

2004 - Joseph Wambaugh

2005 - Marcia Muller

2006 - Stuart M. Kaminsky

2007 - Stephen King

2008 - Bill Pronzini

2009 - James Lee Burke and

2009 - Sue Grafton

2010 - Dorothy Gilman

2011 - Sara Paretsky

2012 - Martha Grimes

2013 - Ken Follett and Margaret Maron

2014 - Carolyn Hart and Robert Crais

Read the complete list of winners for:

2014 Edgar Awards and MWA award nominees & recipients.

2013 Edgar Awards and MWA award nominees & recipients.

2012 Edgar Awards and MWA award nominees & recipients.

Read more about more awards for authors.

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