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The Value of the Carnegie Medal

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This paper examines the history of the Carnegie Medal, a literary prize awarded annually for an outstanding children’s book. During the 1950s and 1960s, Oxford University Press (OUP) dominated the prize, achieving 11 wins and 31 commendations. During this time the Carnegie Medal was often mismanaged. The awarding body was financially insolvent and provided little or no promotion of the winning book. Thus, it fell to the publishers of the winning books to capitalize on the win with their own advertising. There is evidence from the archives that OUP did advertise their winning books through book bands and bookshop displays. The Carnegie Medal, which should have served as a vehicle for raising an author’s social, cultural, and economic capital, proved to be a failure for several decades after its inception.


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