Skip to content

Wolfson History Prize announces 2023 Shortlist

The six books shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize, the UK’s most prestigious history writing prize, were announced this morning (5 September 2023).

The Wolfson History Prize celebrates the best historical non-fiction books from the past year. Bringing new stories from history to light, and challenging readers to rethink accepted historical narratives, the topical Wolfson History Prize shortlist explores themes that are pertinent to current world events.

Spanning centuries and continents, political and personal histories, the Wolfson History Prize 2023 shortlist takes readers from the plague-ridden streets of fourteenth-century Europe to the densely populated alleyways of Dickensian London, travels to the court of eighteenth-century China and the underground resistance movements of Nazi-occupied Europe, and journeys through the history of African and Caribbean people in Britain, via the history of the book itself.

The shortlist

David Cannadine, Chair of the Wolfson History Prize judges, said:

This year’s shortlist demonstrates the enduring power of history writing to shed light on the past, and also to bring new perspectives, empathy and nuance to our understanding of the present. The six titles cover a wide range of themes, from inequality to war and occupation and the effect of previous pandemics. Each book is commended because it is beautifully crafted, grounded in meticulous research and full of fascinating stories of people and places.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said:

A common theme in this year’s shortlist is an exploration of how people and societies in the past have confronted fundamental, global issues: books with a distinct resonance for today’s challenges and preoccupations. We are delighted to share the 2023 shortlist, and celebrate books that bring new evidence, subjects and opinions alive for a wide audience.

The judges

Celebrated historians Mary Beard and Sudhir Hazareesingh joined the judging panel this year, working alongside fellow judges Richard Evans, Carole Hillenbrand, Diarmaid MacCulloch, and chair David Cannadine to narrow down the very best history writing in the UK from the past year to a shortlist of six books, from which one winner will be selected.

Shining a light on books that combine excellence in research with readability for a general audience, the Wolfson History Prize is now in its 51st year. The most valuable history writing prize in the UK, awarding a total of £75,000, the winner receives £50,000, and each of the five shortlisted authors receives £5,000.

The overall winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2023 will be revealed at a ceremony in central London on Monday 13 November 2023.

Get involved

If you work in a library or workplace and would like to promote the prize, you can download a free digital pack from our shop.

What do you think of the 2023 shortlisted titles? Which have you read and what will be added to your TBR pile? Add your comments below, or click any title above to leave a review.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WolfsonHistoryPrize.

To learn more about the Wolfson History Prize head over to their website or connect on Twitter via @WolfsonHistory

Want to make sure you never miss the latest reading group news? Sign up for our free monthly newsletter.


Log in or Sign up to add a comment


Radio 2 Book Club - Winter titles

The Winter season of the Radio 2 Book Club is out now, with brilliant brand-new fiction titles to discover. The BBC Radio 2 Book Club is on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show. It features a wide range of titles and authors, recommending great reads from both new and much-loved writers, encouraging listeners to perhaps try out a genre they might not have read before, and share their opinions and insights on the titles and great reads they’re enjoying right now.


How to start a reading group

Interested in joining a reading group or starting one of your own? Download our quick guide to getting started. You can also download icebreaker questions to help get your discussion started, and a social media guide to show how you can share your reading with others online.


UK’s Best Book Festivals of 2024

The UK is full of book festivals, and as we head into the summer, they’re popping up all over the country and are perfect for your book club to have a day, weekend or even week out. Book festivals are a brilliant opportunity to hear from your favourite writers, discover new ones, and meet other like-minded booklovers. You’ll be sure to walk away with a bag full of new books to enjoy! We’ve put together a list of some of our team’s favourite festivals. Can’t see one near you? You can watch...

View our other programmes