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When the Mystery Writers of American established the Edgar Allan Poe Awards to honor and promote mystery writing, they realized they also needed an award to do the same for work in the genre that did not involve writing. Taking the name from one of the most well known works by their patron saint, they established the Raven Awards. The Ravens are presented annually alongside the Edgars at the awards banquet each spring.

The Ravens have always been somewhat of a miscellaneous category, allowing the MWA to honor anyone who has helped promote the mystery genre in any way. Reporters, criminalists, librarians, editors, and publishers have all been recipients over the years. In 1954, a Best Dust Jacket category was created, as the MWA realized that jacket art could and should be instrumental in drawing readers into purchasing and reading mystery novels. The plan to use the Raven Award to improve the design of jacket art was so successful that the category was dropped after the 1973 awards were presented, and the cover art of mystery novels is now an important part of the promotion and packaging done by the publishers.

In a further effort to promote the mystery genre, Ravens have often been given to various celebrities, including two United States Presidents, for Reader of the Year. Ravens have also been given to outstanding members of the MWA to reward long and excellent service to the organization. Over the years, the prestige of the Raven Award has grown, and it remains one of the best ways the MWA can honor those who toil long and hard behind the scenes to help preserve the life and vitality of the mystery genre.

And the winners are:

1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
  • Harper & Bros. for general excellence
  • Dell, a Scroll for their Great Mystery Series book jackets
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
  • Hardcover Book Jacket: Doubleday
  • Softcover Book Jacket: Collier Books
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1978
1979
1980
1983
1984
1985
1986
1988
1989
1991
1992
1993
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001

Sources:
Mystery Writers of America. "Early History of the MWA." The Mystery Writers of America Web Site. <http://www.mysterywriters.org/library/mwa_history.html> (December 17, 2002)
----. "The Raven Awards." The Mystery Writers of America Web Site. <http://www.mysterywriters.org/awards/raven.html> (December 17, 2002)

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