Clare Jackson has been named winner of the 2022 Wolfson History Prize for her book Devil-Land: England Under Siege, 1588–1688 (Allen Lane), taking the £50,000 prize.


Her winning book is a compelling history of England’s turbulent century under the Stuart monarchy, where the perils of civil war, fire, plague, and political division led European neighbours to refer to the country as ‘Devil-Land’.

England at this time, Jackson told BBC History Magazine as her book launched, was seen as a pariah state, "ruled by regicidal rebels who’d publicly executed their king".

"You get a feeling that events were unfolding at a dizzying speed that even contemporaries had difficulty getting their heads around," Jackson told us.

"Throughout the book I tried to put myself in their position – to imagine how it would feel to not know who might be on the throne this time next year, or what sort of religious settlement might be in place. So much was precarious in the 17th century and so much was up for grabs.”

Jackson was announced as the winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2022 on Wednesday 22 June 2022 in a ceremony at the Wallace Collection in London.

Devil-Land: England Under Siege, 1588-1688

David Cannadine, chair of the Wolfson History Prize judges, describes Devil-Land as a masterpiece of historical writing.

"By looking at England from the perspective of European observers, Clare Jackson gives us a wider lens through which to view the period, helping us to see ourselves through the eyes of others," he writes. "Devil-Land is a fitting winner of the Wolfson History Prize in this our fiftieth year.”

More historical reading inspiration

What is the Wolfson History Prize?

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

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.

Celebrations for the prize's 50th anniversary include a series of free events in partnership with BBC History Magazine, which will be recorded and later released as episodes of the HistoryExtra podcast.

The first of these will explore History and Science and History, Empires and Global Histories, with panellists including historians Olivette Otele and Sanjoy Bhattacharya, previous Wolfson History Prize winner Sudhir Hazareesingh, shortlisted authors Toby Green and Lindsey Fitzharris, and chair of judges David Cannadine.

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.

Wolfson History Prize 2022 runners up – who was on the shortlist?

Five more books were shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2022:

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.”

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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.”

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.”

Who were the judges of the Wolfson History Prize 2022?

There were four judges on Wolfson History Prize 2022 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

Read more about the Wolfson History Prize on the official website


Kev LochunDeputy Digital Editor, HistoryExtra

Kev Lochun is Deputy Digital Editor of 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.