The Spur Awards, given annually for distinguished writing about the American West, are among the oldest and most prestigious in American literature. In 1953, when the awards were established by WWA, western fiction was a staple of American publishing. At the time awards were given to the best western novel, best historical novel, best juvenile, and best short story.Since then the awards have been broadened to include other types of writing about the West. Today, Spurs are offered for the best western historical novel, best western traditional novel, best western contemporary novel, best short story, best short nonfiction. Also, best contemporary nonfiction, best biography, best history, best juvenile fiction and nonfiction, best TV or motion picture drama, best TV or motion picture documentary, and best first novel as well as best first nonfiction book. Winners of the Spur Awards in previous years include Larry McMurtry for Lonesome Dove, Michael Blake for Dances With Wolves, Glendon Swarthout for The Shootist, and Tony Hillerman for Skinwalker.The Spur Awards are open to nonmembers as well as members. To obtain entry information, click on the links below.

WWA also presents the Owen Wister Award each year for lifelong contributions to the field of western literature. Recent winners include W. Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear, Johnny D. Boggs, Will Bagley, Rudolfo Anaya, Win Blevins, C.J. Box, Lucia St. Clair Robson, N. Scott Momaday, John Jakes, Dale L. Walker, Judy Alter, James A. Crutchfield, and Loren D. Estleman.

Go to Spur Awards page

The Lariat Award This special honor, created in 2006, is designed to recognize the company or individual who has shown exceptional support for WWA and for the literature of the West.2006 — The first Lariat Award was presented to the Caxton Publishing, one of the oldest Western publishers and a long-time champion of WWA.

2007 — The first Lariat Award to an individual was presented to Tom Doherty of Tor-Forge Publishing.  His firm has produced three WWA anthologies and generated fourteen Spur Awards through 2006.

2008 — True West magazine, Western history magazine founded in 1953, revamped and reimagined by historian/artist Bob Boze Bell when he took it over in the late 1990s.

2009 — University of Oklahoma Press, distinguished publisher of Western fiction and nonfiction and recipient of 19 Spur Awards, and the first university press established in the Southwest.

2010 — Dorchester Publishing, publisher of multiple western titles under the Leisure Books imprint.

2011 — Luther Wilson, former director of University of New Mexico Press.

2012 – Nancy Curtis/High Plains Press, publisher of many award winning books about Wyoming and the West.

2013 – Five Star Publishing, publisher of historical and Western novels.

2014 – Emil Franzi, radio host of “Voices of the West.”

2015 – AnConnect & Walmart, book marketing.

2016 – TwoDot, publisher of many books about the American West.

2017 – University of Nebraska Press, book publisher of many books about the American West.

2018 – Arthur H. Clark Company, book publisher of important historical books about the American West.

2019 – Bobby Daniels, Roundup Magazine Designer since 1993.

2020 – Wolfpack Publishing, publisher of many books about the American West including Traditional Westerns and Western Romance.

2021 – Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, For more than 85 years, the Western History Collections at the Denver Public Library has assisted and supported Western historians and writers.

The Branding Iron Award This special honor, also created in 2006, is presented to the WWA member who has provided exceptional support to the organization and its goals.

2006 — Natlee Kenoyer, past WWA president and long-time active member.

2006 — Natlee Kenoyer, past president of WWA and long-time active member.

2007 — James A. Crutchfield, long-time active member, past Secretary-Treasurer and first Executive Director.

2008 — Candy Moulton, long-time Editor of Roundup magazine and active member.

2009 — Rita Cleary, past president of WWA who helped form the Homestead Foundation.

2010 — Kathryn Swarthout, long-time member of WWA, who offered years of service to the organization, and wife to the late Glendon Swarthout.

2011 — Cotton Smith, past president of WWA.

2012 – James Ersfeld, posthumously, past associate director of WWA.

2013 – Bob Wiseman, past board member of WWA.

2014 — Rod Miller, past board member and membership committee chair of WWA.

2015 – Johnny D. Boggs, past president of WWA and editor of the Roundup Magazine.

2016 – Cowboy Mike Searles, WWA Welcome Posse.

2017 – Chris Enss, WWA Marketing Chair.

2018 – Ollie Reed, WWA member.

2019 – William Groneman III, WWA member.

2020 – Bill Markley, WWA member.

2021 – Quackgrass Sally, Homestead Foundation Board member, past Spur Award Chair, past WWA Board member.