Wolfson History Prize 2021: shortlist announced

The six authors listed for the £60,000 book price have been announced…

Wolfson History Prize 2021 shortlist

Histories of working motherhood, the children of the Holocaust, the destruction of knowledge, and the leader of the Haitian Revolution are some of the topics that feature in the shortlist for the 2021 Wolfson History Prize. The prize recognises the best historical non-fiction titles from the past year.

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“This year’s shortlist shows us that, despite the unprecedented challenges of the past year, the diversity and quality of history writing in the UK continues to endure,” said Chair of the judges and President of the British Academy, David Cannadine, who also lauded “the commitment of their authors to uncover some of the lesser-known narratives of the past”.


Wolfson History Prize 2021 Shortlist:

Survivors: Children’s Lives after the Holocaust by Rebecca Clifford

Survivors: Children’s Lives after the Holocaust by Rebecca Clifford | Listen to Clifford on the HistoryExtra podcast

The judges said: “Original and engrossing, this book delicately unpicks the myth of post-war survivor silence and restores a voice to the children of the Holocaust.”

Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh

Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh | Listen to Hazareesingh on the HistoryExtra podcast

The judges said: “Erudite and elegant biography of a courageous leader which tells a gripping story with a message that resonates strongly in our own time.”

Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

The judges said: “An illuminating history of Europe from the 5th to 8th centuries as seen through the lens of an Italian city. This book is magisterial and fascinating.”

Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood by Helen McCarthy

Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood by Helen McCarthy | Listen to McCarthy on the HistoryExtra podcast

The judges said: “A stylish, lively account of the emotionally-charged issue of working mothers. Based on intensive research, it displays a deeply-felt respect for the subject’s significance.”

Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack by Richard Ovenden

Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack by Richard Ovenden

The judges said:“A call to arms to protect and preserve knowledge. A fine and moving book which ranges widely across time and acts as a reminder of the importance of libraries to our culture.”

Atlantic Wars: From the Fifteenth Century to the Age of Revolution by Geoffrey Plank

Atlantic Wars: From the Fifteenth Century to the Age of Revolution by Geoffrey Plank

The judges said: “A sobering and compelling study of Atlantic warfare which take pains to incorporate indigenous perspectives.”


The winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2021 will be announced on Wednesday 9 June 2021 in a virtual ceremony. The winner will be awarded £40,000, with each of the shortlisted authors receiving £4,000.

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You can listen to interviews with the winners of previous Wolfson History prizes on the HistoryExtra podcast