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Written by:
Kathryn Martin-Chambers
21 Apr 2022

Trinity Hall’s Senior Tutor is honoured to be shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize.

Dr Clare Jackson’s latest book, Devil-Land, is one of six books shortlisted in what’s described as the country’s most valuable award for history.

The prize, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, has been won by many notable historians in the past and judges have described Dr Jackson’s latest work as a “masterpiece”.

Topics featured in the shortlist include: witch-hunting and a society in disarray in 17th-century Massachusetts, 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. Dr Jackson’s book, Devil-Land: England Under Siege, 1588-1688, covers the century leading up to the Glorious Revolution from the perspective of Britain’s European neighbours.

The judges of the prize described her book 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.”

Dr Clare Jackson with her book 'Devil-Land'

Dr Clare Jackson with her book ‘Devil-Land’

Dr Jackson said: “As a historian, I’ve long been committed to engaging different audiences for history through books, magazine articles, radio, podcasts and television. Hence I’m thrilled and honoured to have been shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize which recognises writing that combines academic scholarship with accessibility to a wide historical readership. Moreover, appreciating the historical background to past geopolitics and conflicts is more urgent than ever in seeking to understand the complex fallout from Brexit or the brutal realities of warfare currently dominating the news and social media.”

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: “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.

“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.

More information:

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)

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, with details to follow at a later date.

Prize alumni will also join historians in conversation at a Wolfson History Prize anniversary event at Hay Festival on Wednesday 1 June at 7pm.

The Wolfson History Prize is run and awarded by the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity that awards grants in the fields of science, health, heritage, humanities & the arts.

The Wolfson History Prize 2021 was won by Sudhir Hazareesingh, for Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture, an in-depth exploration of the leader and hero of the Haitian Revolution.