History in the News

RHS reviews UKRI announcement on Open Access

On 6 August, UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) published its long-awaited report on its future approach to Open Access publishing.

UKRI’s Report on Open Access protocols sets out its policy for the future accessibility of research, as funded by its research councils, and published in journal articles, monographs and edited collections.

In an extended RHS blog post, Society officers past and present (Margot Finn, Richard Fisher, Emma Griffin and Peter Mandler) review UKRI’s policy announcement: setting out its implications for historians, and — equally importantly — what remains unknown at this stage.

UKRI is the overarching body responsible for government research strategy and funding for universities in the UK. It brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, including the Arts and Humanities Research Council  (AHRC) — along with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) — with which many historians will be most familiar as a source of PhD and grant funding.

Read the blog post >


RHS Gladstone Prize logo

RHS Gladstone Book Prize, 2021 shortlist announced

The eight shortlisted titles for this year’s RHS Gladstone Prize have been announced. The Prize offers £1,000 to the author of a first work not primarily related to British or Irish history.

The 2021 shortlist recognises the scholarly contribution and quality of eight excellent history monographs published in 2020.


  • Princely Power in Late Medieval France: Jeanne de Penthièvre and the War for Brittany  by Erika Graham-Goering (Cambridge University Press)
  • A Commerce of Knowledge: Trade, Religion, and Scholarship between England and the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1760  by Simon Mills (Oxford University Press)
  • Revolutionary Pasts: Communist Internationalism in Colonial India  by Ali Raza (Cambridge University Press)
  • The Purchase of the Past: Collecting Culture in Post-Revolutionary Paris, c.1790–1890  by Tom Stammers (Cambridge University Press)
  • Local Lives, Parallel Histories: Villagers and Everyday Life in the Divided Germany  by Marcel Thomas (Oxford University Press)
  • The Origins of the British Empire in Asia, 1600–1750  by David Veevers (Oxford University Press)
  • On Hospitals: Welfare, Law, and Christianity in Western Europe, 400-1320  by Sethina Watson (Oxford University Press)
  • Ishikawa Sanshirō’s Geographical Imagination  by Nadine Willems (Leiden University Press)


This year, as in past competitions, the Gladstone Prize has attracted an outstanding range of submissions on the Atlantic World, British imperial, and trans-national contexts. The field was so strong that the committee shortlisted eight first monographs, in recognition of their originality, rigorous research, and vigorous contribution to past and current debates

 – Professor Barbara Bombi, Gladstone Prize Committee Chair


The winner of the 2021 RHS Gladstone Prize will be announced in July, together with the winner of the RHS Whitfield Prize 2021, for a first book in the field of British and Irish history.

About the RHS Gladstone Prize and its previous winners, 1997-2000.



RHS Whitfield Book Prize, 2021 shortlist announced

The six shortlisted titles for this year’s RHS Whitfield Prize have been announced. The Prize offers £1,000 to the author of a work of British or Irish history.

The 2021 shortlist recognises the scholarly contribution and quality of six excellent history monographs published in 2020.


  • England’s Northern Frontier: Conflict and Local Society in the Fifteenth-Century Scottish Marches  by Jackson W. Armstrong (Cambridge University Press)
  • History and the Written Word: Documents, Literacy, and Language in the Age of the Angevins  by Henry Bainton (University of Pennsylvania Press)
  • Masculinity and Danger on the Eighteenth-Century Grand Tour by Sarah Goldsmith (University of London Press)
  • The Intelligence War against the IRA  by Thomas Leahy (Cambridge University Press)
  • Irish Women and the Great War  by Fionnuala Walsh  (Cambridge University Press)
  • The Making of an Imperial Polity: Civility and America in the Jacobean Metropolis  by Lauren Working (Cambridge University Press)


Once again, the Whitfield Prize competition attracted a large number of excellent entries, presenting the judges with something of an embarrassment of riches. Engagingly written, compellingly argued and deeply researched, the six shortlisted books demonstrate the vibrancy and intellectual ambition of today’s work on British and Irish history.

 – Professor Paul Readman, Whitfield Prize Committee Chair


The winner of the 2021 RHS Whitfield Prize will be announced in July, together with the winner of the RHS Gladstone Prize 2021, for a first book not primarily related to the history of Britain and Ireland.

About the RHS Whitfield Prize and its previous winners, 1977-2020.


RHS President joins historians in commenting on department closures

Royal Historical Society President, Emma Griffin, has joined fellow historians in raising concerns over plans to close History departments at several UK universities. The proposals risk History becoming an elite subject unavailable to selected students, at a time when History and historical awareness is needed more than ever.

Emma Griffin’s comments (reproduced below) appear alongside those of Professors Kate Williams and Sir Richard Evans among others in an article for the Guardian (1 May 2021): ‘Studying history should not be only for the elite, say academics’.


‘Emma Griffin, the president of the Royal Historical Society and professor of modern British history at the University of East Anglia, was anxious that her degree, which she said was very accessible and produced “rounded” graduates, must not become the preserve of the middle classes. “For reasons of cost, many students need to study at their local university. Understanding our own past shouldn’t be a luxury pursuit for the privileged few, and we think that everyone should have a history option.”

Griffin warned that more history closures are already on the horizon. “There are more in discussion, and there are academics at other universities who feel their positions are threatened.”

She said the removal of the cap on student numbers, allowing elite universities to expand, made the demise of smaller history departments in less prominent universities “inevitable”. “These aren’t blips or unfortunate mishaps, it is the government’s policy working as it was designed to,” she said.

Unlike subjects with expensive kit or laboratories, expanding a subject like history is a relatively cheap way for a successful university to increase its income from £9,250 a year fees. But Griffin said that cramming more students in has negative effects on the degree. “A history department cannot suddenly absorb lots more students without an impact on quality. Universities won’t employ new permanent teaching staff for a trend that might prove temporary, so inevitably you just get a casualised workforce managing the extra teaching workload, as well as a lot of stress and overwork amongst the existing staff.”’