Charles Johnson To Receive 2013 Humanities Washington Award

Humanities Washington will honor author and former UW faculty member Charles Johnson with the 2013 Humanities Washington Award at the Bedtime Stories literary gala in Seattle Oct. 4, 2013.

Johnson, who is S. Wilson and Grace Pollock Professor of English Emeritus, will receive the award for his longtime support for the humanities in Washington state, including his involvement in Humanities Washington’s Bedtime Stories literary gala. At Bedtime Stories, writers from around the Northwest develop original short works inspired by an annual theme and present them live at a dinner event. The event has sparked the creation of several books, including Jamie Ford’s latest, Songs of Willow Frost, and Johnson’s own Dr. King’s Refrigerator. Johnson helped found Bedtime Stories fifteen years ago, in 1999, and has since penned a story for the gala annually.

The Humanities Washington Award recognizes outstanding and exemplary achievement in the public humanities. Past winners have included Rep. Norm Dicks, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, and celebrity librarian Nancy Pearl.

“It’s very humbling,” Johnson says. “I was just looking over the past recipients, and they’re very, very distinguished and diverse people … who’ve all made very selfless contributions to the humanities, to culture, to literacy.”

Johnson received the National Book Award in 1990 for Middle Passage, making him the first African-American man to earn the award since Ralph Ellison in 1953. He is the author of numerous works, including four novels, three collections of short stories and over twenty screenplays. He has been an active force in the Seattle arts and humanities community and on the UW campus. In 2007, he delivered a Katz Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities on the intersection of culture, faith, and the imagination. Listen to this lecture here

“We hope to do our part to honor Johnson’s contributions to the Washington state literary community – his prolific writing, meaningful mentorship, and, not the least of which, the fifteen years of original fiction he sparked by fathering Bedtime Stories,” says Julie Ziegler, Humanities Washington’s executive director.

Find out more about the 2013 Bedtime Stories literary gala.