Wolfson History Prize marks 50th anniversary with stellar 2022 shortlist

Six authors are in the final shortlist for a £75,000 prize fund to mark this special event for the Wolfson Foundation

The nominations for the Wolfson History Prize always catch our eye, but this year is particularly special for both the Foundation and for the listed titles.

The Wolfson History Prize is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and with that comes its biggest prize offering, with £50,000 going to the winning author.

And the books in question cover a range of topics, many of them looking at historic examples of division and strife around the world, that feel very relevant to our times.

“This year’s Wolfson History Prize shortlist once again showcases the diversity and vigour of history writing in the UK,” said chair of the judges, David Cannadine. “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.”

“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,” adds Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation. “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.”

Here are the nominees for the Wolfson History Prize this year along with the Judge’s comments on each:

The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs by Marc David Baer:

“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 by Malcolm Gaskill:

“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 by Clare Jackson:

“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 by Nicholas Orme:

“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 by Francesca Stavrakopoulou:

“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 by Alex von Tunzelmann:

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

The winner of Wolfson History Prize for 2022 will be announced on Wednesday 22 June 2022 in a ceremony taking place at the Wallace Collection in London. The winning author will receive £50,000 and each shortlisted writer will get £5,000.

Keep an eye out for upcoming issues of All About History as we interview some of the authors about these titles.

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