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Governor General's Literary Awards

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The Canada Council for the Arts celebrates the best in Canadian literature: our Governor General’s Literary Awards recognize finalists and winners in seven categories, in both official languages, for readers of all ages.

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What is this prize?

The Governor General's Literary Awards are presented in recognition of the best English-language and best French-language book in each of the following seven categories: Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People's Literature – Text, Young People's Literature – Illustrated Books and Translation (from French to English and vice versa).

Prize amount

  • 14 awards of $25,000 per book for winners in both languages in the seven categories and a $3,000 grant to each publisher to promote the winning works
  • $1,000 per book for the finalists

How to qualify

For complete eligibility criteria and the nomination form, refer to the Governor General’s Literary Awards Guidelines.

Books must be submitted to the Canada Council by an eligible publisher.

Peer assessment committees review all eligible titles in each of the 7 categories. Each committee chooses a winner, and up to 4 more books as finalists. 

For further information on these prizes, visit the Governor General’s Literary Awards website.


Deadlines align with the book publication date. For details, refer to the guidelines.


  • March 15, 2020: for books in English published September 1, 2019 - February 29, 2020 and for books in French published July 1, 2019 – February 29, 2020.
  • October 1, 2020: for books in English published March 1, 2020 – September 30, 2020 and for books in French published March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
    Note: Books must arrive at the Canada Council offices no later than the deadline date.

Who created this prize?

In 1936, His Excellency the Right Honourable John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, was approached by members of the Canadian Authors Association to establish a system of literary prizes. He agreed to lend the name of his office in order to stimulate writers and encourage a deeper interest in their work among the general public. As a result of these talks, the Governor General's Literary Awards were created. In 1959, the Canada Council for the Arts assumed responsibility for them and added prizes for works written in French. In 1987, three categories were added: Translation and the two children's literature categories (text and illustration), which are now known as Young People’s Literature – Text and Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books.

Contact information

Lori Knoll

Program Officer

E-mail: ggbooks@canadacouncil.ca

Telephone: 613-566-4414, ext. 5573

Toll free: 1-800-263-5588, ext. 5573

TTY: 1-866-585-5559

Next Deadline

October 2020


Prize Amount

$1,000 -

By Nomination

Cumulative list of winners

We are committed to equity in all our activities, including the administration of our prizes and awards.