The shortlist for the 2020 Wolfson History Prize has been announced and features three London historians.

Recognising the best factual history writing from the past year, the Wolfson History Prize 2020 shortlist features a wide variety of global focuses, with five of the six books exploring non-British history.

International topics covered in this year’s shortlisted books includes: a human history of the oceans, an  exploration of Chaucer’s relationship with Europe, a history of West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution, looking at Anglo-Indian relations through the untold history of the first All India cricket team and a seminal study of the impact of the Bible on world religions and cultures. Meanwhile, the only book to concentrate on British history concentrates on the untold lives of the victims of Jack the Ripper.

The books on the shortlist are as follows:

 .  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

·  Chaucer: A European Life (Princeton University Press) by Marion Turner

Talking about the shortlist, Chair of the judges and President of the British Academy, David Cannadine, 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.”

Run and awarded by the Wolfson Foundation, the Wolfson History Prize will be awarded to the winner in a virtual ceremony taking place on the 15th June 2020. The winner will receive £40,000, with each of the shortlisted authors receiving £4,000. 

The Wolfson Foundation is a charity that awards grants in the fields of science, health, education, arts & humanities. The Wolfson History Prize 2019 was won by Mary Fulbrook for her exploration of justice in the wake of World War Two, Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice.

Each of 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.


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