The Ivan Sandrof Life Achievement Award was established in 1981 to honor Ivan Sandrof (1911-1979), the first president of the National Book Critics Circle. The Sandrof Award is given to a person who has, over time, made significant contributions to book culture.
Sandrof was born in Gardner, Massachusetts, on July 10, 1911. He began his journalism career with the Worcester Telegram in 1941, and after a brief stint as a reporter for Stars and Stripes during World War II, returned to the paper until his retirement in 1976. He was appointed literary editor in 1960. Sandrof was also the author of four books of regional history: Your Worcester Street (1948), Massachusetts Towns: An 1840 View (1963), More Massachusetts Towns (1965) Yesterday’s Massachusetts (1977). From many years, he wrote a regular book column in the Worcester Evening Gazette, as a critic, he contributed to Esquire, the New Yorker and the New York Times. Sandrof became a civic leader in his adopted hometown, serving on the board of the Worcester Historical Society, and chaired the committee that preserved the historic Cape Cod home of naturalist and writer Henry Beston. In calling for the establishment of an organization for book critics in 1974, Sandrof declared that, “Publishers have associations and the publicity representatives of the publishers have an organization. The critics howl alone.” He was at the NBCC’s helm for its first meeting at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City on April 15, 1975. Sandrof passed away in his beloved Worcester on February 11, 1979.