'Global theme' for Wolfson History Prize shortlist

'Global theme' for Wolfson History Prize shortlist

The shortlist for the £40,000 Wolfson History Prize shortlist has been announced. Five of the six books chosen focus on international subjects.

The six books shortlisted are: The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans (Allen Lane) by David Abulafia; A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths (Allen Lane) by John Barton; A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (Allen Lane) by Toby Green; Cricket Country: An Indian Odyssey in the Age of Empire (Oxford University Press) by Prashant Kidambi; The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper (Doubleday) by Hallie Rubenhold; and Chaucer: A European Life (Princeton University Press) by Marion Turner.

The shortlist was selected by a panel of judges including British Academy president David Cannadine, professor and author Richard Evans, Islamic history specialist Carole Hillenbrand and Oxford church history professor Diarmaid MacCulloch.

Cannadine, who chaired the panel, said of the shortlist: “This year’s shortlist has a decidedly global theme. The list is a demonstration of the range and quality of history writing in the UK today, both within and without academia.

"These are books that engross, challenge and delight—and which draw the readers into worlds as diverse as Indian cricket, Victorian London and the kingdoms of West Africa. I am very grateful to my fellow judges for their time and wisdom, and it is with great enthusiasm that we announce the shortlist for 2020.”

The shortlisted authors will discuss their books and historical writing in a special edition of BBC Radio 3’s "Free Thinking" on a date to be announced.

The prize is run by independent charity the Wolfson Foundation, which awards grants in the fields of science, health, education and arts & humanities. The winner will  be announced in a virtual ceremony on 15th June, and will be awarded £40,000, with each of the shortlisted authors receiving £4,000.

Last year's prize was won by Mary Fulbrook for her exploration of justice in the wake of the Second World War, Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice (Oxford University Press).