Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim is the 2015 recipient of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award.

The announcement came today from The Chicago Public Library Foundation and the Chicago Public Library. The 16th annual honor will be presented to Sondheim at a gala dinner on Oct. 21 at the Forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Sondheim’s critically acclaimed contributions as a composer and/or lyricist to the American musical theater span 50 years and include iconic works such as “West Side Story,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Into the Woods.” and “Gypsy.” His collaborations with Leonard Bernstein and Hal Prince have resulted in some of the greatest works in musical theater. His film credits include “Reds” and “Dick Tracy.”

The Carl Sandburg Literary Award is presented to writers in honor of their collective body of work and is now recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes, having been presented to many of the world’s most esteemed fiction and non-fiction authors. Past winners include: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mavis Staples, Larry McMurtry, Michael Lewis, Isabel Allende, Don DeLillo, Walter Isaacson, Roger Ebert, Toni Morrison, David McCullough, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, David Mamet, Nikki Giovanni, Tom Wolfe and Salman Rushdie.

Eighty authors in all will be recognized for their literary contributions at the October awards ceremony including Eric Charles May, associate professor in the Fiction Writing program of Columbia College,  who will receive the 21st Century Award, honoring authors who have released few but exceptional books.  The native Chicagoan’s debut novel “Bedrock Faith” was published in 2014 to widespread acclaim.

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