Doris Betts, 2008 Garrett Award Recipient

Doris Betts (1932-2012) taught at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The recipient of countless awards and honorary degrees for her work as a novelist and short-story writer, for her excellence as a teacher, and for her generosity as a community activist, Betts served on many philanthropic boards, including AWP's in the 1970s.

Betts taught many writers who launched notable careers: Randall Kenan, Jill McCorkle, Robert Morgan, and Russell Banks. “As mentor, teacher, cheerleader, and muse, she has been especially invaluable to the women’s writing community in North Carolina,” her fellow novelist Lee Smith wrote, “I might never have attempted a university job without Doris’s urging, which practically amounted to a good swift kick in the butt… Doris Betts has shown us all that a wonderful life involves deep commitment to family, to community, and always to art.”

Betts’s books included Souls Raised from the Dead, Heading West, Beast of the Southern Wild, The Scarlet Thread, and Tall Houses in Winter. One of her frequently reprinted stories, “The Ugliest Pilgrim,” was adapted into a play and then into a screenplay; it garnered a New York Drama Circle Critics Award and an Academy Award.

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Each year, AWP welcomes nominations for the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature. Consult our award guidelines for more information. Award recipients are selected by AWP's board of directors.