Cambridge historian shortlisted for 2022 Wolfson History Prize

Cambridge historian shortlisted for 2022 Wolfson History Prize

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Dr Clare Jackson is one of six historians nominated in this year's shortlist for her original account of the rise and fall of the Stuart dynasty — one of English history’s most turbulent and radical eras.

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.

2022 Wolfson History Prize judges

The shortlist for the Wolfson History Prize 2022, the most valuable non-fiction writing prize in the UK, was announced on 21 April, recognising the best factual history writing from the past year. Dr Clare Jackson, Senior Tutor and Walter Grant Scott Fellow in History at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Trinity Hall, was nominated for Devil-Land: England under Siege 1588-1688. In addition to her research and teaching activities, including the publication of Charles II: The Star King, Dr Jackson has also presented several successful television programmes about the Stuart dynasty for the BBC. 

Devil-Land is an innovative and original account of one of the most turbulent centuries of English history as seen by foreign observers. Starting on the eve of the Spanish Armada's descent in 1588 and concluding with a not-so 'Glorious Revolution' a hundred years later, Devil-Land is a spectacular reinterpretation of England's vexed and enthralling past. The Judges described it as ‘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.’ Devil-Land was chosen as a ‘Book of the Year’ by The Times, the Times Literary Supplement, the Daily Telegraph and The New Statesman.

This 2022 shortlist showcases the breadth and depth of UK history writing, with topics ranging from the Ottoman Empire and witchcraft through to parish churches and the rise and fall of statues. The judges noted a through-line of socio-economic interests throughout the shortlisted books, in particular, a shared interest in the impact of faith on society. 

The winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2022 will be announced on Wednesday 22 June in a ceremony at the Wallace Collection, London. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Prize, the winner of the Wolfson History Prize will receive an increased award of £50,000, with each of the shortlisted authors receiving £5000.

The Wolfson History Prize 2022 shortlisted authors will discuss their books and historical writing in a special edition of BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking in June. 

The books shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2020 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) 

Mr Paul Ramsbottom OBE, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said of the Prize: 

“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 shortlisted books demonstrate that turbulent times are nothing new and show how different societies have dealt with such challenges.” 

About the Wolfson History Prize 

First awarded by the Wolfson Foundation in 1972, the Wolfson History Prize remains a beacon of the best historical writing being produced in the UK, reflecting qualities of both readability for a general audience and excellence in writing and research. The most valuable history writing prize in the UK, the Wolfson History Prize is awarded annually, with the winner receiving £50,000 and the shortlisted authors receiving £5,000 each. Over £1.3 million has been awarded to more than 120 historians in the prize’s 50-year history. Previous winners include; Mary Beard, Simon Schama, Eric Hobsbawm, Amanda Vickery, Antony Beevor, Christopher Bayly, and Antonia Fraser. 

Find out more about the Wolfson History Prize.

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