Christopher de Hamel Wins the 2017 Wolfson History Prize for his "Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts"

book-cover_remarkable-manuscripts-lower-res.jpgThe winner of this year’s Wolfson History Prize, awarded for excellence in accessible and scholarly history, has been announced as Dr Christopher de Hamel for his book, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts. 

De Hamel, who receives the £40,000 prize, is Fellow and former librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He was one of six authors shortlisted for the Prize earlier this year. 

Awarded annually by the Wolfson Foundation for over forty years, the Wolfson History Prize has become synonymous with celebrating outstanding history. Established in 1972, it has awarded more than £1.1 million in recognition of the best historical writing being produced in the UK, reflecting qualities of both readability and excellence in writing and research.

Sir David Cannadine, Chair of the Prize Judges, said: “Christopher de Hamel's outstanding and original book pushes the boundaries of what it is and what it means to write history. By framing each manuscript of which he writes as the story of his own personal encounter with it, he leads the reader on many unforgettable journeys of discovery and learning. Deeply imaginative, beautifully written, and unfailingly humane, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts distils a lifelong love of these astonishing historical treasures, which the author brings so vividly to life. It is a masterpiece.”

About the Prize-winning book: 

Part travel book, part detective story, part conversation with the reader, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts conveys the fascination and excitement of encountering some of the greatest works of art in our culture which, in the originals, are to most people completely inaccessible.

Christopher de Hamel traces the elaborate journeys that these exceptionally precious artefacts have made through time and space; how they have been copied, owned or lusted after; how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes; and how they have been regarded as objects of supreme luxury and symbols of national identity. 

He introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, collectors and the international community of manuscript scholars, showing us how he and his fellows piece together evidence to reach unexpected conclusions. 

About the author:

In the course of a long career at Sotheby's Christopher de Hamel probably handled and catalogued more illuminated manuscripts and over a wider range than any person alive. He is Fellow and former librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The Parker Library, which was in his care from 2000 to 2016, includes many of the earliest manuscripts in English language and history. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society. 

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel is published in hardback by Allen Lane at £30 

 

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