The shortlist for the Wolfson History Prize 2020, the most valuable non-fiction writing prize in the UK, has been announced today, recognizing the best factual history writing from the past year.
This year’s shortlist has a distinctly global focus, with five of the six titles exploring non-British history. International topics covered in the shortlist range from a human history of the oceans, to an exploration of Chaucer’s relationship with Europe, to a history of West Africa from the rise of the slave trade to the age of revolution, to looking at Anglo-Indian relations through the untold history of the first All India cricket team, to a seminal study of the impact of the Bible on world religions and cultures. Meanwhile, the only exclusively British history on the 2020 shortlist sheds light on the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.
The shortlist announcement comes as historical non-fiction sees a 14%t uplift in sales over the past five years, with World History experiencing phenomenal growth in the UK, with a 92% increase in book sales since 2015, according to new data from Nielsen Book.
The books shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2020 are:
- 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