The twice Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alan Taylor will chair the jury for the 2019 Cundill History Prize, Antonia Maioni, Dean of Arts at McGill University, will announce at the London Book Fair today.
The Thomas Jefferson Professor of History at the University of Virginia will be joined on the international panel of prize-winning historians by one of Canada’s best-known writers, the Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University Charlotte Gray; the German-born Robert Gerwarth, Professor of Modern History at University College Dublin and Director of the Centre for War Studies; Jane Kamensky, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University; and, returning to the jury, Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at Oxford University and a BBC Radio 3 presenter.
The Cundill History Prize is at The London Book Fair to seek submissions from underrepresented parts of the world in particular, and across a breadth of global topics. The prize is open to authors from anywhere in the world – regardless of nationality or place of residence – and to translations into English. Antonia Maioni, Dean of Arts at McGill University, is at the English PEN Literary Salon today, discussing with 2018 juror Peter Frankopan how to attract history in English that goes beyond traditional Western topics and geographies.
Antonia Maioni said: “I am delighted to announce such an outstanding panel of jurors for the 2019 Cundill History Prize. With research interests ranging from early America to modern China, from twentieth-century Europe to contemporary Canada, investigating issues from political violence, war and slavery to family, culture, and everyday life, these distinguished international historians will be judging some of the best history writing from around the world. It’s so exciting to be making this announcement at the The London Book Fair this year, where we are present to bring this important prize to the attention of an even wider global publishing community.”
Alan Taylor, Chair of the Jury, said: “I am delighted to work with such an insightful and accomplished jury to evaluate the best-written works in history for the premier international prize in our field. The Cundill Prize helps to advance literary quality as well as research originality in history writing.”
Administered by Canada’s McGill University, the Cundill History Prize rewards the best work of history in English. With US$75,000 going to the winner, and $10,000 to each of the two runners up, it is the richest purse for non-fiction in English.
Charlotte Gray said: “It is a great honour to serve on this distinguished jury for the most significant award in the field of history. I look forward to thinking about the interplay between excellent history and compelling writing as we assess the work of some of the world’s most skilled historians. In a period of disruption and uncertainty, good history is important for so many reasons, including its potential to be enlightening, provocative, enriching and salutary. New tools of analysis, and new areas of research, are widening our perspective of who matters and why, and a prize like the Cundill spotlights excellent books that deserve a wide readership.”
Robert Gerwarth said: “I’m delighted to serve on the jury for the 2019 Cundill History Prize. At a time of ‘post-truths’ and contested pasts, it seems more important than ever to celebrate outstanding works of history writing.”
Jane Kamensky said: “I so look forward to reading the Cundill Prize submissions. During its eleven-year run, this prize has done a terrific job bringing fresh scholarship and sharp writing to international attention. The best history writing moves us as much as it teaches us. It shows us who we are and how we got here. Never have we needed those lessons more.”
Rana Mitter said: “I was honoured to be a judge for the 2017 Cundill History Prize, and am delighted to return this year. I was truly impressed by the global and chronological reach of the books I read in my previous stint as a judge, which was a little like undertaking the world’s most intense history tutorial, particularly when we are living through times that future historians will no doubt think truly historic. I am hugely looking forward to reading and learning from another selection of some of the most exciting works in history being written today.”
International publishers have until April 1 to submit their best works of history for the 2019 prize. The shortlist will be announced in September, followed by the three finalists in October. The Cundill History Prize Gala and winner announcement will take place in Montreal in November.
Last year, the jury chaired by Mark Gilbert awarded the Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff for The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World, her genre-bending account of the life and world of Polish-British writer. The two runners up were the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Caroline Fraser for the first comprehensive historical account of the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Prairie Fires); and the Ohio State University Associate Professor of History Sam White for his inter-disciplinary investigation into the decisive role the climate played in the success and failure of the first North American settlements (A Cold Welcome).
The 2019 winner will join an alumni list of world-leading historians: Maya Jasanoff (2018), Daniel Beer (2017), Thomas W. Laqueur (2016), Susan Pedersen (2015), Gary Bass (2014), Anne Applebaum (2013), Stephen Platt (2012), Sergio Luzzatto (2011), Diarmaid MacCulloch (2010), Lisa Jardine (2009), Stuart B. Schwartz (2008).