The 18 Women Playwrights Who Won The Pulitzer Prize

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are the women playwrights who have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an annual award given for “a distinguished play by an American author…dealing with American life” that began in 1917, and will be awarded again on May 8, 2023. Three of the winning plays by women playwrights received Broadway productions last year.

The work of more than two dozen other female playwrights have been designated Pulitzer finalists since the finalist category was created in 1983 (See list at bottom)

Each play title below is accompanied by the year in which the award was given, and linked to an Amazon page (where you can learn more about it, and purchase the script); as well as to any productions I reviewed, and to the Pulitzer Board’s official citation (which they’ve only written since 2009.)

Zona Gale, Miss Lulu Bett, 1921 (the link is to the novel)

Susan Glaspell, Alison’s House, 1931 (the link is to a collection of Glaspell plays)

Zoe Akins, The old maid,, 1935

Mary Coyle Chase, Harvey, 1945. (My review of a biography: Pulling Harvey Out of Her Hat: The Amazing Story of Mary Coyle Chase.)

Frances Goodrich, The Diary of Anne Frank., 1956 (co-written with Albert Hackett)

Ketti Frings, Look Homeward, Angel, 1958

Beth Henley, Crimes of the Heart., 1981

Marsha Norman, ‘night, Mother, 1983

Wendy Wasserstein, The Heidi Chronicles., 1989. (My review of the 2015 Broadway production of The Heidi Chronicles)

Paula Vogel, How I Learned to Drive, 1998 (My review of the 2022 Broadway production of How I Learned to Drive.)

Margaret Edson, Wit, 1999.

Suzan-Lori Parks, TOPDOG UNDERDOG, 2002 (My review of the 2022 Broadway revival of Topdog/Underdog.)

Lynn Nottage, Ruined, 2009
“A searing drama set in chaotic Congo that compels audiences to face the horror of wartime rape and brutality while still finding affirmation of life and hope amid hopelessness.”

Quiara Alegría Hudes, Water by the Spoonful, 2012 (My review of the 2013 Off-Broadway production of Water By The Spoonful)
“An imaginative play about the search for meaning by a returning Iraq war veteran working in a sandwich shop in his hometown of Philadelphia.”

Annie Baker, The Flick, 2014. (My review of the 2013 Off Broadway production of The Flick.)
“A thoughtful drama with well-crafted characters that focuses on three employees of a Massachusetts art-house movie theater, rendering lives rarely seen on the stage.”

Lynn Nottage, Sweat  2017 (Nottage is the only woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice.) (My review of Sweat.)
For a nuanced yet powerful drama that reminds audiences of the stacked deck still facing workers searching for the American dream.

Martyna Majok , Cost of Living  2018. (My review of the 2022 Broadway production of Cost of Living.)
“An honest, original work that invites audiences to examine diverse perceptions of privilege and human connection through two pairs of mismatched individuals: a former trucker and his recently paralyzed ex-wife, and an arrogant young man with cerebral palsy and his new caregiver.”

Jackie Sibblies Drury, Fairview 2019 (My review of Fairview.)
“A hard-hitting drama that examines race in a highly conceptual, layered structure, ultimately bringing audiences into the actors’ community to face deep-seated prejudices.”

Katori Hall, The Hot Wing King, 2021
“A funny, deeply felt consideration of Black masculinity and how it is perceived, filtered through the experiences of a loving gay couple and their extended family as they prepare for a culinary competition.”

Female finalists since 1983:
Painting Churches, by Tina Howe,
And What of the Night?, by Maria Irene Fornes
Fires in the Mirror, by Anna Deavere Smith
Keely and Du, by Jane Martin (a pseudonym)
Pride’s Crossing, by Tina Howe
Freedomland, by Amy Freed
Running Man, by Cornelius Eady and Diedre Murray
n the Blood, by Suzan-Lori Parks
Yellowman, by Dael Orlandersmith
The Glory of Living, by Rebecca Gilman
Omnium Gatherum, by Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros
The Clean House, by Sarah Ruhl.
Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue, by Quiara Alegria Hudes
Bulrusher, by Eisa Davis
In The Heights, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes
Becky Shaw, by Gina Gionfriddo
In the Next Room or the vibrator play, by Sarah Ruhl
Detroit, by Lisa D’Amour
Rapture, Blister, Burn, by Gina Gionfriddo
4000 Miles, by Amy Herzog
The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, by Madeleine George
Fun Home, by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori
Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3), by Suzan-Lori Parks
The Wolves, by Sarah DeLappe
What the Constitution Means to Me, by Heidi Schreck
Dance Nation, by Clare Barron
Stew, by Zora Howard
Selling Kabul, by Sylvia Khoury
Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord, by Kristina Wong

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

1 thought on “The 18 Women Playwrights Who Won The Pulitzer Prize

  1. What a perfect way to celebrate Women’s History month! And if you’ll permit me a bit of logrolling, I’m happy to say that I’ve done episodes on five of these women (and have two more in the works) for “All the Drama,” my podcast about the plays that have won the Pulitzer, which can be found here:

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