David Berry Prize

Edward Burne Jones, Battle of Flodden, relief

The David Berry Prize is for the best essay addressing an aspect of Scottish history. The winner is awarded a prize of £250. The Prize was endowed by David Anderson-Berry in memory of his father the Reverend David Berry.  In 1937 the first David Berry Prize was awarded to G. Donaldson for his essay ‘The polity of the Scottish reformed Church c.1460-1580, and the rise of the Presbyterian movement’.

The RHS is delighted to announce that the 2017 David Berry Prize has been awarded to Malcolm Petrie for his essay ‘Fear of a “Slave State”: Individualism, Libertarianism, and the Rise of Scottish Nationalism c.1945-c.1979′.

The judges commented:

This is a timely piece on the early attitudes of, and reactions to, the Scottish National Party. In the light of both the campaign for Scottish independence and the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU it has contemporary relevance. However, more than that it is a profound work of scholarship with real historical significance on a subject that has received little scholarly attention. The author mines a range of archival sources and letters as well as published political memoirs and contemporary newspapers. With great sensitivity he describes how the SNP of the 1960s and 1970s slowly shifted from being a right wing anti-authoritarian party to being the social democratic party it is today, partly through “entryism” by left wing environmental activists who ended by changing the party completely. From being an anti-EU party in the 1970s the SNP came round to its present pro-European stance through the influence of Jim Sillars, the former Labour MP who led the Leave campaign in Scotland in 2016. The article reveals that the SNP, like all major political parties, is not just a coalition of present views, but the product of lingering ghosts of past stances, often longing for resurrection. The author does a wonderful job in providing a clear narrative in a style which both the academic and the lay reader can appreciate.”

The proxime accessit is Alice Glaze for her article ‘Women and Kirk Discipline: Prosecution, Negotiation, and the Limits of Control,’ Journal of Scottish Historical Studies 36, no. 1 (2016): 125-42. The judges commented:

This is a very accomplished piece, sensitively handled. The Canongate kirk session records are a vivid source which the author exploits to maximum effect. She puts the women of Canongate in both socio-economic and religious context and in a study which deals with charges of adultery, fornication and harlotry, demonstrates both the control the kirk had over women’s bodies and the defences and opportunities to manipulate the system that women had at their disposal. One of the author’s many virtues is her light touch; letting the evidence speak for itself when she can and allowing readers to form their own interpretation of Scotland’s post-reformation Calvinist church. The last paragraph is a model summing up; the reminder that such a window onto the past from such sources is translucent rather than transparent and that even powerful institutions like the kirk relied on some degree of grassroots support. The whole makes a contribution to the study of the relationship between faith based legal systems and wider society which is still relevant today.”

How to Enter

  • The essay submitted must be a genuine work of research based on original (manuscript or printed) materials.
  • The essay should be between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length (excluding footnotes and appendices).
  • Essays already published or accepted for future publication are eligible for submission.
  • Previous prize winners are not eligible to enter for the prize again.
  • Please note that an electronic copy of your essay will need to be uploaded to the entry form.
  • For further information on how to enter, please refer to the Guidelines.
  • Once you have read the guidelines please complete this Entry Form.

Closing date for entries: 31 December 2018

Past winners of the David Berry prize

All enquiries about the Prize should be addressed to the Administrative Secretary, Melanie Ransom, at: m.ransom@royalhistsoc.org