Professor giving a lecture to students in old main

Benjamin Wofford Prize

The Benjamin Wofford Prize is awarded for works judged clearly superior. Rucht Lilavivat’s novel, The Stars of Canaan, received the first award, published in 1995. In 2000, Scott Neely's A Good Road to Walk became the first winner of the Benjamin Wofford Prize for nonfiction, and in 2005, Emily Smith's baboon heart became the first winner in the category of poetry. Two thousand copies of each book, in paperback, are distributed to Wofford students, honors students in high schools, high school and college English teachers, book review editors, and creative writing professors at other campuses. Since 1995, over 60 Wofford students have written novellas in the novel-writing course offered every other year.

"This award is like no other in literature, as the publication of each new winner quite possibly heralds a major new voice in American literature. Congratulations to each and every winner, and may the Benjamin Wofford Prize be the first of many books to follow for all of them." 
- Bret Lott, author of

2013 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Victoria Putnam

The Bird Man's Daughter

2011 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Kemper Wray

Burden of Wings

2008 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Elizabeth Reynolds

Elizabeth Reynolds is the eighth winner of the Benjamin Wofford Prize. She graduated from Wofford College in 2008 with her B.A. degree in English. She currently lives near Atlanta, GA where she is pursuing a career in book publishing. When not working at Barnes & Noble, she enjoys reading and watching critically acclaimed movies.

"Elizabeth's rendering of Violet is moving and restrained and funny too. I loved the interactions, how tensions fed into tensions." 


 2006 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Lauren Stephenson

Scrap by Lauren Stephenson
Lauren Stephenson, from Cape Coral, Fla., is the seventh winner of the Benjamin Wofford Prize for fiction. Stephenson, a graduate of the class of 2006, received her B.A. degree in English. She currently lives in Boston, Mass., where she is a graduate student in writing and publishing at Emerson College.


“This novella maintains the ‘vivid and continuous dream’ of a fictional world throughout. Between readings, I thought of it, and found the narrative and protagonist engaging. The premise—a disturbing futuristic world where pharmaceutical corporations have taken over—is not exactly unique, but the details dropped in gracefully throughout help create a creepy, dark, and believable world.”


2005 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Emily Smith

baboon heart
Emily Smith, from Woodruff, SC, is the first recipient of the Benjamin Wofford Prize for poetry. She is a 2006 Wofford graduate with a degree in biology.

baboon heart

"Emily Smith's book of poems has an architectural precision of language, and images that haunt the mind. Her poems take many shapes and styles, and with beauty and remarkable strength she plunges the heart into new depths. This young woman loves words and knows how to use them. She is the real thing."


 2004 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Thomas Pierce

said the dark fishesThomas Pierce of Spartanburg, SC, the sixth winner of the Ben Wofford Prize for fiction, is a member of the Wofford Class of 2006. During the 2004-2005 academic year, he traveled abroad eight months as Wofford's 20th Presidential Scholar, studying communes and other alternative-living styles in the Third World. He was one of three students selected nationally to receive an NPR Kroc Fellowship to work at National Public Radio headquarters in Washington, DC, and on assignment with NPR stations around the country. He began his yearlong fellowship in August 2006.

said the dark fishes
"Thomas Pierce's said the dark fishes offers the reader two urgent needs in fiction: an unforgettable voice, and a multifaceted conflict. Monty, the sixteen-year-old narrator, must swim the tricky channels of friendship, betrayal, love, and innocence in this, his summer after high school. Pierce's voice brings to mind the characters of Salinger, Portis, and Hannah..."


 2003 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Liz Scarborough
  Tangle book

Elizabeth (Liz) Dearing Scarborough is a Moncks Corner, SC, native and a 2002 Wofford graduate.  She recently completed an assignment in community development and AIDS prevention with the Peace Corps in Cape Verde, West Africa. 

Filled with the faces, voices, rooms and riverbanks of South Carolina, Tangle takes us into a tangled smalltown world with its gritty present and its hurtful past.


2001 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Josh Hudson

When You Fall A native of Danville, KY, Josh Hudson is a member of the Wofford class of 2001. He wrote When You Fall while enrolled during the spring semester of his junior year in the advanced fiction course taught by Dr. Deno Trakas.

When You Fall
Jacob Crowe is adrift. Tossed between worlds of unfulfilling education and unsuccessful romance, he must be led into the deepest jungles of Venezuela to learn who he is and where he needs to go.

2000 Benjamin Wofford Prize for Nonfiction Writing
Scott Neely

A Good Road to WalkScott Neely is from Spartanburg, SC, and graduated in the Class of 2000. He is the first recipient of the Benjamin Wofford Prize for nonfiction writing. Scott was the 14th Presidential Scholar at Wofford College.

A Good Road to WalkThough Diogenes set out to locate an honest man, he despaired of finding one. Scott Neely's trip was different. He was looking for practical saints and knew exactly where to look - in the ashrams, schools, and hospices they founded throughout the world.

"For anyone who's ever wondered how to make a difference, Neely's globe-circling odyssey as a Wofford College Presidential Scholar is both exhilarating and inspiring, taking us into places Diogenes never saw and lighting them up with a perspicacity and wit that never fail him."

1999 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Miller "Mac" Leaphart

Strange Light In addition to being an English major and member of the Wofford Class of 2000, Miller McKeown "Mac" Leaphart lives in Greenville, SC, and travels up and down the eastern seaboard as lead guitarist for the popular band "Five Way Friday." 

Strange Light
Returning to Prosperity, Ga., Steve Caldwell encounters all the unfinished business of high school - the lost loves, the old friends, and the well-remembered enemies. 

"If you can imagine Huck Finn at 20, behind the wheel of a '67 Mustang convertible headed back to Hannibal, you've got the basic feel of this remarkable story."


1997 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Travis Wheeler

Joshua RequiemA native of Indianapolis, Travis Wheeler transferred to Wofford College in 1996 from the U.S. Naval Academy. A member of the Wofford Class of 1998, he wrote The Joshua Requiem while enrolled during the spring semester of his junior year in a fiction-writing course taught by Dr. Benjamin Dunlap.

The Joshua Requiem
Forced to choose between loyalty to his friends and obedience to the system, Josh D'Avignon supposes he knows what matters most. What he doesn't know is how much the system knows and how far it's willing to go.

"Justice as the reflex of a soul-less getting your necktie caught in a ripsaw."


 1995 Benjamin Wofford Prize Winner
Rucht Lilavivat

Stars of CanaanBorn on St. Patrick's Day in 1974, Rucht Lilavivat lives in Sumter, SC, though he also claims Rochester, NY, as his home. A member of the Wofford Class of 1996, he wrote The Stars of Canaan during the spring semester of his junior year.

The Stars of Canaan
Agent 1404 agrees to a final mission, one that threatens to tear him apart . . . between past and future.

" engrossingly original thriller...C.S. Lewis meets Raymond Chandler in the future megalopolis of 'Blade Runner.' The rumor of Canaan is a shard of hope."