BALTIMORE (AP) — Kathryn J. Manion of Clarksville knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. After graduating from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, Manion attended Washington College in Chestertown, where she majored in English.
On Tuesday night, the 22-year-old was named the winner of the 45th annual Sophie Kerr Prize. At $58,274, it’s the largest undergraduate literary prize in the nation.
“I’m interested in continuing to write,” Manion said in an interview Tuesday night. “I’d like to go to graduate school, and
eventually work in book publishing.”
She said she’ll use the prize money to attend a summer publishing institute, continue her education and possibly traveling, especially to the United Kingdom, where she spent three weeks summer hiking and reading.
Manion is currently reading 19th Century British literature and volumes of short stories.
She says current popular fiction is good in that it gets people to read.
“Many genres are evolving,” Manion said. “But people should also continue to study the classics, as each work reflects the culture of the time.”
Manion took the prize with her submission of four short stories and excerpts of her thesis on the role of letter writing in
literature. This year, there were five finalists, chosen from 35 portfolios.
The prize was established by a posthumous gift from Sophie Kerr, a writer born in Denton, who wrote more than 100 stories and 23 novels.
When Kerr died at age 84 in 1965, she left the bulk of her estate to Washington College. She specified that one-half of the
income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most “ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)