David Olusgoa wins the 2017 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize

10 July 2017

We're delighted to announce that David Olusoga has won the 2017 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for Black and British: A Forgotten History.

Black and British is a vital re-examination of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean.

The PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize is awarded annually for a non-fiction book of specifically historical content. This year's judging panel was chaired by Professor Jean Seaton, with critic and historian Frances Stonor Saunders and the 2016 winner of the Hessell-Tiltman Prize Nicholas Stargardt.

On accepting the award, David Olusoga said:

It has been a bizarre and wonderful experience, to get all these other people's histories and experiences, and weave them together - with my own very personal stories, but also with a bigger story of this country ... No group – no ethnic group, no political group – owns any part of history. It's all of ours, and ours to conquer, and subdue, to make us go crazy.

Awarding the Prize, Jean Seaton, chair of the judges, said:

David Olusoga's Black and British: a Forgotten History is a wonderful read, but it won because it was so surprising. It discovers unexpected stories of black people in Britain, but it is as much about the ebb and flow of how the British have made that story (sometimes negatively, sometimes positively) part of the national narrative. Above all, this story – sometimes shaming and chilling, but equally inspiring and strange – is told with a great calm and curiosity. The tone invites us all to reflect and become part of the reassessment. It is a tremendous achievement.

Black and British

Black and British

In this vital re-examination of a shared history, award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean.

Drawing on new genealogical research, original records, and expert testimony, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination, Elizabethan ‘blackamoors’ and the global slave-trading empire. It shows that the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery, and that black Britons fought at Trafalgar and in the trenches of both World Wars. Black British history is woven into the cultural and economic histories of the nation. It is not a singular history, but one that belongs to us all.

Read extract  

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