Whitfield Prize

The Whitfield Book Prize has become one of the most sought after book prizes for early career historians. It was established by the RHS in 1976 at the bequest of Professor Archibald Stenton Whitfield, who was a Fellow of the Society from June 1916 until his death in 1974. The prize offers an annual award of £1,000 for a work on British or Irish history that is the author’s first sole book publication.

The RHS is delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Whitfield Prize. The winner will be announced at a reception following the Prothero Lecture on 6 July 2016.

The Whitfield Prize for 2015 was awarded to John Sabapathy for Officers and Accountability in Medieval England 1170-1300 (Oxford University Press, 2014)

The judges described it as:

John Sabapathy

John Sabapathy

… a hugely rewarding book, sophisticated and important, and one which both demands and repays close attention. At its core, it is a study of the development of procedures of accountability as a means of controlling the conduct of officers, but it uses its subject to present an impressively rich and subtle account of the mentality of government…. The material with which Sabapathy works is unpromising, and the technical skills that he brings to its study are hugely impressive. These skills are matched by larger ambitions. Simply to conceptualize the topic in the way that he has done, and that itself advances the historical agenda, demonstrates extraordinary intellectual skills. The study itself is deeply rich and subtle, with a firm theoretical grounding, and it successfully opens out a range of important historical questions, giving it a resonance well beyond medieval history. Officers and Accountability is a highly original work which will surely stimulate debate and further research for many years; it really is new administrative history.”

John Sabapathy writes about the book’s context and  possible historiographical paths for future work. READ MORE

The proxime accessit is Mo Moulton for Ireland and the Irish in interwar England (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

The judges commented:

Mo Moulton has taken a neglected subject, the Irish in England in the two decades after the end of the Anglo-Irish war, to produce a rich and multi-faceted study that casts light on both England and Ireland in the interwar period and contains echoes and anticipations of wider post-colonial history. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the book is its range, weaving together political, social and cultural themes in a manner that is almost seamless. The account that she has constructed is very rich and intricate, providing fresh and sharply observed insights at every turn. All of this is underpinned by careful and sensitive research; the manner in which the tone of various pieces of evidence is judged and calibrated is highly assured, revealing a deep understanding of the complexities of the subject. Ireland and the Irish is also a very engaging read. It is a model of multi-disciplinary research on modern British history and has a great deal to offer specialist and non-specialist alike.”

How to Enter

To be eligible for the prize the book must:

  • be its author’s first solely written history book;
  • be on a subject within a field of British or Irish history;
  • be an original and scholarly work of historical research;
  • have been published in English during the calendar year 2016.

Publishers are invited to nominate their books. (Please note authors cannot submit their own work.) For further information on how to enter, including the entry form, please refer to the Guidelines.

Closing date for entries: 31 December 2016

Past Whitfield prize winners

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