Magazine article History Today

Best of the Past Year: History Today Announces Its Awards for the Best of 2007

Magazine article History Today

Best of the Past Year: History Today Announces Its Awards for the Best of 2007

Article excerpt

'You cannot understand anything in politics without understanding history. No one can understand events in Pakistan or Afghanistan without knowing some history. Many politicians today don't. They'd benefit from knowing a bit of history.' This judgement from William Hague, Conservative spokesman on Foreign Affairs and biographer of Pitt the Younger and William Wilberforce, sums up exactly why he won the Longman/History Today Trustees award for 2007, which is given to a person who has done outstanding work to promote history: pour encourager les autres, his colleagues and opponents in Westminster.

The other main prizes given at our annual awards in January were: Book of the Year to David Hendy for Life on Air: A History of Radio Four (Oxford UP); Undergraduate Dissertation to Morgan Daniels, of Queen Mary, University of London, writing on the political impact of That Was the Week That Was and the satire boom of the early 1960s; Picture Researcher: Juliet Brightmore for her work on Roy Strong's A Little History of the English Country Church; and our new Local History Project award, to Unheard Voices, a project on the history of the deaf community in Wolverhampton.

The Churchill Museum was packed with historians, publishers and prize-winners to hear William Hague explain how he got started on his second career as a writer. There is a long tradition of major politicians writing history; perhaps the first was the Earl of Clarendon in the 1660s, the last probably Roy Jenkins. Jenkins, indeed, gave Hague three practical tips before he embarked on his first book. First was, 'Publishers give a number of words--take no notice'. Second, 'Don't map it all out; like an artillery barrage in front of the infantry, just follow where it goes.' And finally, 'Start immediately, start tomorrow.'

Hague emphasized how a study of history gave him perspective not just on the problems of the world, but on the stresses and strains of life in Westminster. 'Every day in the House of Commons I walk past a statue of Pitt. I imagine him saying "That's nothing compared to what I had to go through!'"

Book of the Year award

This is also given by the Longman/History Today Trust, which was set up fifteen years ago to celebrate the close relationships between these two publishing houses. The Book of the Year award is given for an author's first or second book, and is worth 2,000 [pounds sterling] to the winner. This year the judges were Professor Miri Rubin, Jeremy Black and Taylor Downing, who found David Hendy's Life on Air: A History of Radio Four 'a beautiful history of a bureaucracy--and of the way that creative people work within the system. There are not many histories of institutions that make them sound as interesting as Hendy does; and this institution is a uniquely British one. Hendy had remarkable access to the BBC archives at Caversham, and the book would not have been possible without them having been made available to historians in this way. With them, Hendy has written a fine account of how public broadcasting has evolved over the last forty years; so this is a book about change, which reaches widely into the broader culture of Britain during these years.' See page 62 for a review.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

HIGHLY COMMENDED

God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain by Rosemary Hill (Allen Lane); and Mrs Woolf and the Servants: The Hidden Heart of Domestic Service Alison Light (Penguin Fig Tree). Of Hill's book, the judges said: 'It's unusual for a biography to be highly commended in this prize, but this lively and engrossing biography of a remarkable, energetic and demanding man whose religious and architectural commitment helped transform the appearance of many British and Irish towns and cities is refreshing, enjoyable and offers a shower of insights into mid-Victorian Britain.'

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Of Light's book, they remarked: 'This surprising volume explores the lives of the servants in the household of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, and weaves together social history and women's history in a creative and novel way. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.