Did you know John F. Kennedy was the recipient of the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for Biography?

Marcos Hernandez An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek

The Pulitzer Prize is generally regarded as the most prestigious prize in journalism. There are currently 21 categories which are awarded the Pulitzer, ranging from photography to music. 

There were 14 Pulitzers awarded in 1957, less categories than the current number because of the introducton of new categories for online content. That year, the Pulitzer for biography was awarded to John F. Kennedy, at the time a Massachusetts Senator. His work, Profiles in Courage, is a series of short biographies about eight Senators who did what they though was right despite suffering criticism and losses of popularity as a result.  

The list of men profiled in the biography include John Quincy Adams, Sam Houston, and Robert Taft (son of former President William Taft).

There were rumors about the actual authorship of the biographies. ABC reported that a ghostwriter, Kennedy’s speechwriter Ted Sorensen, actually wrote the entirety of the book but when Kennedy’s lawyers showed up at ABC the network issued a retraction and an apology. 

 The Kennedy Library is home to Kennedy’s handwritten notes, showing his contribution to the work. It is now accepted that Kennedy and Sorensen co-wrote Profiles in Courage.

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