Sarton Women's Book Awards™

Honoring Women's Lives

The Sarton Women's Book Awards™ are sponsored by the Story Circle Network, an international nonprofit association of women writers. Awards are presented annually in four categories. Lesbian entries are welcome in all categories.
  • Memoir
  • Nonfiction: Biography, Collective biography, Edited diaries, Scholarly studies of women's literature, Anthologies
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Historical Fiction

The award program is named in honor of May Sarton, who is remembered for her outstanding contributions to women's literature as a memoirist, novelist, and poet.

The awards are given annually to women authors writing chiefly about women in memoir, biography and fiction published in the United States and Canada and selected from works submitted. The awards are limited to submissions originally written in English and published by small/independent publishers, university presses, and author-publishers (self-publishing authors). The judging is conducted in two rounds. Professional librarians not affiliated with SCN select the winner and finalists.

The 2019 award shortlist will be published in January, 2020. Winners will be announced in in April, 2020.

The Sarton 2020 competition will open June 15, 2020.

2018 Sarton Award Winners:

  • Catherine Johnson, Vashon WA
    Finding Mercy in This World (Endicott and Hugh Books) [MEMOIR]

  • Ellen Notbohm, Portland OR
    The River by Starlight (She Writes Press) [HISTORICAL FICTION]

  • Mary Avery Kabrich, Seattle WA
    Once Upon a Time a Sparrow (Open Wings Press) [CONTEMPORARY FICTION]

  • Sarah Rickman, Colorado Springs CO
    BJ Erickson: WASP Pilot (Filter Press) [YOUNG ADULT NONFICTION]

  • Nicole Evelina, Maryland Heights MO
    The Once and Future Queen: Guinevere in Arthurian Legend (Lawson Gartner Publishing) [NONFICTION]

2017 Sarton Award Winners:

  • Linda M. Hasselstrom, Hermosa SD
    Gathering From the Grassland (High Plains Press) [MEMOIR]

  • Candice Shy Hooper, Boca Grande FL
    Lincoln's Generals' Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War (Kent State University Press) [BIOGRAPHY]

  • Christine Evelyn Volker, Richmond CA
    Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City (She Writes Press) [CONTEMPORARY FICTION]

  • Charlene Ball, Atlanta GA
    Dark Lady: A Novel of Emilia Bassano Lanyer (She Writes Press) [HISTORICAL FICTION]

  • Phyllis A. Still, Gilmer TX
    Defiance on Indian Creek (White Bird Publications) [YOUNG ADULT FICTION]

2015-2016 Sarton Award winners:

  • Virginia A. Simpson, El Dorado Hills CA
    The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life (She Writes Press) [MEMOIR]

  • Sarah Byrn Rickman, Colorado Springs CO
    Finding Dorothy Scott: Letters of a WASP Pilot (Texas Tech University Press) [BIOGRAPHY]

  • Jenni Ogden, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
    A Drop in the Ocean: A Novel (She Writes Press) [CONTEMPORARY FICTION]

  • Mary Dingee Fillmore, Burlington VT
    An Address in Amsterdam (She Writes Press) [HISTORICAL FICTION]

  • Leslie Tall Manning, New Bern NC
    Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town (author-published) [YOUNG ADULT FICTION]

2014-2015 Sarton Award winners:

  • Jill Kandel, Moorhead, MN
    So Many Africas: Six Years in a Zambian Village (Autumn House Press) [MEMOIR]

  • Susan Marsh, Jackson, WY

  • Barbara Stark-Nemon, Ann Arbor, MI
    Even in Darkness: A Novel (She Writes Press) [HISTORICAL FICTION]
    • Kathryn Ferguson, The Haunting of the Mexican Border (University of New Mexico Press)
    • Leah Lax, Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home (She Writes Press)

    • Lisa A. Kramer, P.O.W.ER (Word Hermit Press)
    • Tammy Flanders Hetrick, Stella Rose (She Writes Press)
    • Bonnie ZoBell, What Happened Here (Press 53)

    • Susan Signe Morrison, Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife (Top Hat Books)
    • Julie Weston, Moonshadows (Five Star Publishing)

For more details about the winner & finalists...

Previous winners:

2013-2014 Sarton Award winners:

  • Yelizaveta P. Renfro, Hartford CT
    Xylotheque: Essays (University of New Mexico Press, 2014)

  • Amber Starfire, Not the Mother I Remember (Moonskye Publishing, 2013)
  • Janice Gary, Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance (Michigan State University Press, 2013)

For more details about the winner & finalists...

2012-2013 Sarton Award winner:
  • Tanya Ward Goodman, Los Angeles CA: Leaving Tinkertown
  • Laura Gray-Rosendale, College Girl
  • Carole Garibaldi Rogers, Hidden Lives: My Three Grandmothers
  • Kayann Short, A Bushel's Worth: An Ecobiography

For more details about the winner...

2012 Sarton Award winner:
  • Monica Wood, Portland ME: When We Were the Kennedys

For more details about the winner...

2011 Sarton Award winners:
  • Leila Levinson, Austin TX: Gated Grief

  • Jamie Patterson, Minneapolis MN: Lost Edens

For more details about the winners...

May Sarton's Words


The Story Circle Network is an international not-for-profit membership organization made up of women who want to document their lives and explore their personal stories through journaling, memoir, autobiography, personal essays, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, and mixed-media.

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