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Wolfson History Prize 2022: the shortlist revealed

Now in its 50th year, the Wolfson History Prize celebrates the best in accessible academic writing. Here are the six books in contention for the 2022 prize, including titles on witch-hunting, the Ottoman empire and the role of statues in defining our history…

Wolfson History Prize 2022 shortlist
Published: April 21, 2022 at 9:58 am

The radical years of the Stuart dynasty, the role of the church in medieval life, an examination of how statues define our history and an exploration of the concept of God are among the topics that feature in this year’s Wolfson History Prize shortlist.

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First awarded in 1972, the annual Wolfson History Prize recognises authors who excel in writing readable and scholarly history for a general audience.

“Whether or not you agree with their arguments, these six books will inspire and provoke,” says Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation.

Some of the titles in the 2022 shortlist explore the importance of religion throughout the centuries. Others demonstrate that modern social and political divisions are nothing new.

“They offer the opportunity to learn more about what mattered to previous societies and to reflect on the significance of the past to current concerns and debates.”

More historical reading inspiration

What is the Wolfson History Prize?

The Wolfson History Prize was created to champion the best and most accessible historical writing and to highlight the importance of history to modern life. This year marks the prize’s 50th anniversary.

Previous winners have included Mary Beard, Anthony Beevor, David Abulafia and Amanda Vickery.

Last year’s Wolfson History Prize was awarded to Sudhir Hazareesingh’s Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture, an in-depth exploration of the leader the Haitian Revolution.

Who are the judges of the Wolfson History Prize 2022?

 This year there are four judges on this year’s Wolfson History Prize judging panel:

  •  David Cannadine (chair) | Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University, a Visiting Professor of History at the University of Oxford, the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  •  Richard Evans | Regius Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Cambridge
  •  Carole Hillenbrand | Professor Emerita of Islamic History at the University of Edinburgh and Professorial Fellow (Islamic History) at the University of St Andrews
  • Diarmaid MacCulloch | Fellow of Saint Cross College and Campion Hall, and Professor Emeritus of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford

Wolfson History Prize 2022 shortlist

The six books shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2022 were announced on 21 April 2022. The following titles have made this year’s shortlist.

The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs 

The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs 

Marc David Baer | Published by Basic Books

What the judges said: “A hugely impressive sweeping narrative. Covering seven centuries, this book adds a new perspective to global history by emphasising the role of this longstanding and important dynasty.”

The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World 

The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World 

Malcolm Gaskill | Published by Allen Lane

What the judges said: “A riveting micro-history, brilliantly set within the broader social and cultural history of witchcraft. Drawing on previously neglected source material, this book is elegantly written and full of intelligent analysis.”

Devil-Land: England Under Siege, 1588-1688 

Devil-Land: England Under Siege, 1588-1688 

Clare Jackson | Published by Allen Lane

What the judges said: “A masterpiece that will change our view of the 17th century. Exciting and well-written, it provides fresh insights by looking at England through European eyes.”

Going to Church in Medieval England 

Going to Church in Medieval England 

Nicholas Orme | Published by Yale University Press

What the judges said: “An engaging and often moving account of how religious life was woven into people’s everyday experiences from Anglo-Saxon times to the Reformation. A sparkling book.”

God: An Anatomy 

God: An Anatomy 

Francesca Stavrakopoulou | Published by Picador

What the judges said: “Original and courageous. This ambitious yet readable discussion of the physicality of God enhances our understanding of the history of monotheistic religions and Western culture.” 

Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues That Made History 

Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues That Made History

Alex von Tunzelmann | Published by Headline

What the judges said: “Intelligent, illuminating and thoroughly enjoyable. A well-researched book that uses carefully chosen case studies to shed light on a topic of contemporary debate.”

When will the Wolfson History Prize 2022 winner be announced?

The winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2022 will be announced on Wednesday 22 June 2022 in a ceremony at the Wallace Collection in London.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the prize, the winner will be awarded £50,000, while each of the other shortlisted authors will receive £5,000.

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Read more about the Wolfson History Prize on the official website

Authors

Kev LochunDigital Section Editor, HistoryExtra

Kev Lochun is Digital Section Editor of HistoryExtra.com and previously Deputy Editor of BBC History Revealed. As well as commissioning content from expert historians, he can also be found interviewing them on the award-winning HistoryExtra podcast.

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