The Wolfson History Prize has been awarded annually since 1972 by the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity that awards grants to support and promote excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts & humanities.
It was established largely on the initiative of the Wolfson Foundation’s then chairman, Leonard Wolfson, backed by trustees and other advisers, including the philosopher and historian Isaiah Berlin and the publisher George Weidenfeld.
- …when we set up the prizes, the object was to encourage British historians to write in such a way that they would reach a general public and not barricade themselves behind their scholarly expertise to conduct a private debate.
Alan Bullock, former chair of judges and trustee of the Wolfson Foundation
The winners of the Prize span the full range of historical enquiry: from biography to social, cultural and economic history to books about politics, war and international relations. All periods and geographic regions are represented. The roll call of winners – and the announcement of the Prize each year – is a public statement of the importance of historical writing within British cultural life.
- …the culmination of historical writing remains a major work of narrative, analysis or interpretation, carefully composed and memorably expressed. This is the kind of book which the Wolfson History Prize seeks to recognise.
Keith Thomas, former chair of judges