21 April 2022
Witch-hunts, fallen statues and Britain’s most turbulent century among the Wolfson History Prize 2022 shortlist.
The Wolfson History Prize has today (21 April 2022) revealed its shortlist for 2022. The prize, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, showcases the best accessible historical non-fiction titles from the previous year.
The six shortlisted titles cover a range of socio-political themes, with the influence of religion appearing across a number of the books in contention for the UK’s most valuable history prize.
Topics featured in the shortlist include: witch-hunting and a society in disarray in 17th-century Massachusetts, the century leading up to the Glorious Revolution from the perspective of Britain’s European neighbours, the development of ideas about God through history, the role of the church in Medieval communities, the story of the Ottoman dynasty over 700 years, and what fallen statues tell us about historical memory.
The books shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2022 are:
- The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs by Marc David Baer (Basic Books)
- The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World by Malcolm Gaskill (Allen Lane)
- Devil-Land: England Under Siege, 1588-1688 by Clare Jackson (Allen Lane)
- Going to Church in Medieval England by Nicholas Orme (Yale University Press)
- God: An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Picador)
- Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues That Made History by Alex von Tunzelmann (Headline)
Chair of the judges, David Cannadine, commented: “This year’s Wolfson History Prize shortlist once again showcases the diversity and vigour of history writing in the UK. The judges were impressed by the variety, originality, and quality of research demonstrated by the six shortlisted books. As well as being engaging reads, they are all highly deserving of a place in the eminent roll call of authors celebrated by the prize over the past fifty years.”
Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation, which awards the prize, said of the shortlist: “We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the Wolfson History Prize 2022, reflecting the very best historical writing in the UK today. This year marks fifty years of the Wolfson History Prize and its mission – to champion the importance of high-quality, accessible history writing – is as critical now as it has ever been. This past year has revealed much about how history can be valued, contested and re-evaluated. It has also revealed why it is vital for us to engage carefully and thoughtfully with the experiences of those who came before us: a reminder of the importance of history to our lives.
“Whether or not you agree with their arguments, these six books will inspire and provoke. 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. The books shortlisted this year demonstrate that turbulent times are nothing new and show how different societies have dealt with such challenges.”
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 total fund has been increased to £75,000, with the winner being awarded £50,000 and each of the shortlisted authors receiving £5,000.
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