Simpson Family Literary Project


There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.




The Simpson Family Literary Project honors the profound impact of Barclay and Sharon Simpson and their family, distinguished philanthropic sustainers of the arts and education. For many years, they have inspired us all by championing the work and lives of artists, students, life-long learners, and underserved children. 

The Simpson Family Literary Project pursues two overarching and closely connected objectives: lasting educational outreach into schools, universities, and libraries, as well as celebrating and supporting authors across a great spectrum: from fledging young writers to mid-career writers of distinction to internationally celebrated authors.

The Simpson Family Literary Project offers three core initiatives: outreach to high school-age writers, a writer in residence program, and a national literary prize. Learn more about our programs.


A collaboration of the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation and the University of California, Berkeley, English Department.




The Wood Family Foundation
Patti James
Simpson PSB Fund: Sharon Simpson
System Property Development Company
Richard Morrison
Mario & Jen Di Prisco
Dodge & Cox
David Wood & Kathy Garrison
Karen & Tom Mulvaney
James & Katherine Moule
Janet & Norman Pease
The McBurney Foundation
Tracey Borst & Robert Menicucci
Frank & Carey Starn
Ralph & Liz Long
Jim & Lela Barnes
Ellen & Joffa Dale
A. R. Taylor
Debbie Goldberg
Alice Breakstone

friends and thought-partners

Candace Andersen | Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
Kathi Bahr |
Don Bogen
Noelle Burch | Contra Costa Juvenile Hall Library
Kathleen Caldwell A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, CA
Vikram Chandra
Ron Charles |Editor, Book World, The Washington Post
Laura Cogan and Oscar Villalon | Zyzzyva, a San Francisco Journal of Arts & Letters
Tyson Cornell | Rare Bird
Cecil S. Giscombe
Robert Hass
Lyn Hejinian
Rita Iorfida
Patti James
Joyce Jenkins | Poetry Flash
Diane Johnson
Gail Kauffman
Diana Ketcham and Andrew Hoyem | Arion Press
P.F. Kluge
Wendy Lesser | Threepenny Review
Yiyun Li
Ian Maloney | The St. Francis College Literary Prize
Peter Maravelis | City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, San Francisco
Regan McMahon | Common Sense Media
John McMurtrie | Book Editor, San Francisco Chronicle
Christine McQuade | Open as the Sky
Karen Mulvaney
John Murray
Scott Saul
Elizabeth Tallent
Julayne Virgil | CEO, Girls Inc Alameda County
Jan Weissmiller | Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City
Willard Williams | Toadstool Books, New Hampshire
Tobias Wolff
David Wood


Project Committee


Joseph Di Prisco
Chair, Author & Educator


Steven Justice
English Professor, Chair of the English Department, University of California, Berkeley

Karen Mulvaney
Board Member, Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation

Beth Needel
Executive Director, Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation


Joyce Carol Oates
Author, Professor of Humanities, Princeton University


Genaro Padilla
Chair Emeritus, English Department; Vice Chancellor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley


Vickie Sciacca
Senior Community Library Manager, Lafayette Public Library

Emeritus, PROJECT COMMITTEE (2016-2018)

Donald McQuade
English Professor, Author, and Vice Chancellor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

Scott Saul
English Professor, Author, University of California, Berkeley