Sudhir Hazareesingh wins £40,000 Wolfson History Prize 2021

Wolfson for Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture

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Wolfson History Prize winner for 2021, Sudhir Hazareesingh Photo Wolfson
Wolfson History Prize winner for 2021, Sudhir Hazareesingh Photo Wolfson

The most prestigious history writing prize in the UK, the Wolfson History Prize 2021 was won by Sudhir Hazareesingh who also received £40,000 for Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture at an award ceremony on 9 June. The book is an account of the incredible life of Toussaint Louverture, leader and hero of the Haitian revolution.

Hazareesingh was announced as the winner in a virtual ceremony including a speech by Wolfson Foundation chief executive Paul Ramsbottom and the esteemed judging panel. The Wolfson History Prize, now in its 49th year, is awarded annually by the Wolfson Foundation to a work of historical non-fiction which combines excellence in research and writing, with readability for a general audience. It is the most valuable non-fiction prize in the UK.

Black Spartacus The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh
Black Spartacus The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh

Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture (Allen Lane) provides an intimate study of the life of a revolutionary leader whose experiences speak to many of the debates about history and heritage currently taking place. Through a wealth of archival material, much of which has been left uncovered by previous biographers, Hazareesingh creates the portrait of a former slave who confronted some of the dominant forces of the age – slavery, settler colonialism, imperialism, and racial hierarchy.

Hazareesingh triumphed over a shortlist which balanced vast historical explorations with individual narratives, all of which highlighted the importance of analysing the past in order to understand the issues facing us today. The five shortlistees were each awarded £4,000: Rebecca Clifford (Survivors: Children’s Lives after the Holocaust), Judith Herrin (Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe), Helen McCarthy (Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood), Richard Ovenden (Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge), and Geoffrey Plank (From the Fifteenth Century to the Age of Revolution).

Sudhir Hazareesingh, winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2021 said, “Completing this book made me realize more acutely than ever how much the writing of history is a collective effort, resting on the accumulated wisdom from current and previous generations, and I would like to dedicate this award to the Haitian people, and to all the scholars who have helped give the Saint-Domingue revolution, this landmark event in the fight for emancipation and dignity, the prominence it deserves.”

David Cannadine, chair of the Wolfson History Prize Judging Panel commented, “Black Spartacus vividly re-creates the extraordinary career of the leader and hero of the Haitian Revolution, which reverberated far beyond that island and far beyond the Caribbean. This is an erudite and elegant biography with a message that resonates strongly in our own time, and we extend our warmest congratulations to Sudhir Hazareesingh.”

In 2020, the Wolfson History Prize was awarded to David Abulafia for The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans, a global history of humankind told through our relationship with the world’s oceans.

The Wolfson History Prize is run and awarded by the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity that awards grants in the fields of science, health, heritage, humanities, and the arts. Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive at the Wolfson Foundation, said, “For nearly fifty years the Wolfson History Prize has highlighted history that is not only carefully researched but which is accessible and elegantly written. Never have the aims of the Prize been more necessary than in these days of challenge and uncertainty. Sudhir Hazareesingh’s remarkable book is a sparkling example of the role history can play in society today and, in particular, the importance of shining a light on the often-overlooked experiences of the past.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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