Robin Lane Fox annnounced as joint winner of the Wolfson History Prize

The two winners of the annual Wolfson History Prize, awarded for books published in 2015, have been announced by the Wolfson Foundation. The announcement was made at a reception at Claridge’s in London on Wednesday 15 June.

The Wolfson History Prize, awarded every year to British authors since 1972, promotes and encourages standards of excellence in the writing of readable and scholarly history suitable for a general audience. Previous winners of this prestigious award have included: Antony Beevor, Ian Kershaw, Antonia Fraser, David Reynolds, Richard Overy and Mary Beard.

The two winners for 2016, each receiving a prize of £30,000, are Nikolaus Wachsmann and Robin Lane Fox.

Robin Lane Fox's Augustine: Conversions and Confessions (published by Allen Lane) was described by Rowan Williams as "a watershed in Augustinian studies… [a] magisterial and compellingly readable narrative, which makes full and creative use of all the best recent scholarship."

This book is a major new interpretation of how one of the great figures of Christian history came to write one of the greatest of all autobiographies. In it Robin Lane Fox follows Augustine on a brilliantly described journey, combining the latest scholarship with recently found letters and sermons by Augustine. Augustine’s heretical years as a Manichaean, his relation to non- Christian philosophy, his mystical aspirations and the nature of his conversion are among the aspects of his life which stand out in a sharper light. This exceptional study reminds us why we are so excited and so moved by Augustine's story. 

Presenting the award, Prize Judge Professor Julia Smith said: "This book revisits one of the most influential and prolific authors in western thought, a man whose preoccupations with sin, evil, bodily pain, longing, and love lie at the heart of this scintillating analysis. In brief, the book is about one man’s life-long search for heaven in a world of abundant evil, and his strivings to make some sort of contact with that heaven in his daily life…But unlike so many interpretations of works of philosophy and theology, this study is grounded in the man’s direct experience of the world around him—the people he knew, those he loved, his emotions and intense physical experiences, whether of pain, lust, pleasure or anger…Beautifully written in a crystalline prose where not a word is out of place, it’s a book to read in a garden, or the shady courtyard of a Mediterranean villa, as well as in the study or library."

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