Thursday, 10 January 2013

A blast from the past: The History Today Awards


Back in 2005, when Arthur King of the Britons was newly published, it was shortlisted for the History Today/Longman New Generation Prize, which was described as follows:

Given for a book that will stimulate enthusiasm for, and involvement with history, among secondary school children. In this wide-ranging category which can include school textbooks, historical fiction and illustrated titles, the judges Chris Wrigley, Don Henson and Sean Lang put emphasis on books that adopted an innovative approach to conveying historical information and ideas with flair and imagination.

Now, being shortlisted for this was quite a big thing for me; if History Today use words such as innovative, flair, and imagination, I wouldn't expect to be pushing myself to the front of the crowd, so I promptly forgot about the whole thing and moved on with my life.

Then out of the blue came an invite to the awards ceremony, held in London on 10 January 2006. Hence my reason for today's rambling anecdote, seven years later. Along I went, curious about the whole affair, and came away rewarded with the Runner Up prize in this category. 'Pah, runner up!" I hear you rise from your seat to shout/think quietly to yourself in a slightly disinterested fashion ... but it was runner up in a field of thousands of eligible titles so I'll claim that thank'ee very much.

Here's what History Today wrote about my book:

This deals with an important topic too often left to fantasists and cranks. Mersey makes Arthur accessible as proper history in a readable and good way, especially for the younger age group, and makes a brave attempt to separate fact from fiction without forgetting the irresistible imaginative pull of the Arthurian stories themselves.

Hooray, they separated me from the fantasists and cranks!

One day, if I'm suitably flushed with pride, I'll post a scan of my award certificate that you can print out and place in that little shrine I know everyone has dedicated to me...