Given out by the Mystery Writers of America the Edgar Award is named after Edgar Allen Poe (obviously). They felt it a fitting name since Poe is considered the father of detective fiction, having written three stories in the 1840's featuring a detective named C. Auguste Dupin.
The first Edgar was awarded in 1946 - the initial categories were Best 1st Novel, Best Radio Drama, Best Motion Picture and Outstanding Mystery Criticism. The award was handed out at the Edgar Awards banquet in New York and has floated around different venues ever since.
Fun Fact: The Iconic Edgar statuette wasn't handed out until the 3rd awards dinner! The 1st year they hand out a specially bound & printed collection of Poe's works. The 2nd year they had a limited edition run of 12 of Howard Haycraft’s Art of the Mystery Story (which incidentally won the Outstanding Mystery Criticism category the same year, 1948)!
The Best Novel category (which is now one of the Edgar's most coveted award) was created eight years later in 1954 - the 1st winner was Charlotte Jay's mystery Beat Not The Bones. The very same year Roald Dahl, best know for his kids books, won the best short story category for Someone Like You. The next year Raymond Chandler won Best Novel for the Long Goodbye!
The entire list is a who's who of mystery writers!
The same can be said for the Grand Master Award which was first given out in 1955 to Agatha Christie - with the strict understanding that she wouldn't have to give a speech! The Grand Master's speech is considered one of the highlights of the awards Banquet, but Christie hated public speaking....But she'd already created Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Colonial Race, Tommy & Tuppence, Superintendent Battle, Mr. Harley Quinn and written And Then There Were None - so I suppose they were willing to accommodate her!
The 2016 Grand Master is no less distinguished! Walter Mosley the creator of Easy Rawlins, Paris Minton, Leonid Mcgill, and tons of other non-series works recieved the Edgar. I cannot wait see who this year's Grand Master is!
Fun Fact: There are a 4 defunct Edgar categories: Best radio drama (1946–1960), Outstanding Mystery Criticism (1946–1967), Best foreign film (1949–1966) & Best book jacket (1955–1975).
And there is one irregular category called the Special Edgar - 1st awarded in 1949 to Peter W. Williams for creating the Edgar statuette now handed out to the Edgar winners. 2005 was the last time it was given out, to David Chase & Tom Fontana for their writing and production of new and breakthrough TV shows.
Now You Know!