We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 HWA Crown Awards, celebrating the best historical writing of the year, fiction and non-fiction!
Like all books submitted for this year’s prizes, they were published in the year between April 2020 and March 2021, the height of lockdown, so we’d like to express our admiration for the writers, publishers, and booksellers who kept going through the most difficult times. And what inventive, varied and memorable books they brought us!
This year the winners were announced The HWA Crown Awards for 2021 were announced online on 24 November on our YouTube channel, followed by a smaller than usual party in the evening. Photos from the event are at the bottom of this page.
The winners of the HWA Gold, Non-fiction and Debut Crown Awards, out of a very strong field, are:
The HWA Gold Crown Award 2021
The shortlisted books are:
V For Victory by Lissa Evans (Doubleday)
Arrowood and the Thames Corpses by Mick Finlay (HQ)
The Silver Collar by Antonia Hodgson (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Unwanted Dead by Chris Lloyd (Orion)
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Pan Macmillan)
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton (Bloomsbury)
The winner of the 2021 Gold Crown Award
The Unwanted Dead by Chris Lloyd
“This is a fabulous book with a wonderful premise set in a particularly difficult time,” says Jean Fullerton, chair of the judges.
“It’s the first of a series and I certainly am looking forward to the next one.”
Judges: Jean Fullerton (chair), Kate Atherton, Robin Carter, Toby Clements, Nicola Cornick, Elizabeth Hawksley, Lizzie Lane, Sara O’Keefe, Natasha Onwuemezi and Frances Owen.
The HWA Non-fiction Crown Award 2021
The shortlisted books are:
Britain at Bay by Alan Allport (Profile Books)
The Gun, the Ship and the Pen by Linda Colley (Profile Books)
The Ravine by Wendy Lower (Head of Zeus)
The Dead are Arising by Les Payne and Tamara Payne (Viking Books)
A Stranger in the Shogun’s City by Amy Stanley (Chatto & Windus)
Ellis Island by Małgorzata Szejnert, translated by Sean Gasper Bye (Scribe)
The winner of the 2021 Non-fiction Crown Award
Britain at Bay by Alan Allport
“It’s written very precisely, very lucidly,” says Clare Mulley, who chairs the judging panel.
“It changed our perspective, not just on Britain in the Second World War but on British national identity and the way that we deploy history more generally.”
Judges: Clare Mulley (chair), Jessie Childs, Dan Jones, Jagjeet Lally and Luke Pepera.
The HWA Debut Crown Award 2021
The shortlisted books are:
Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten (Bloomsbury)
The Strange Adventures of H by Sarah Burton (Legend Press)
The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi (Pan Macmillan)
Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi (Penguin Michael Joseph)
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner (Legend Press)
People of Abandoned Character by Clare Whitfield (Head of Zeus)
The winner of the 2021 Debut Crown Award
The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
“This was an exciting reading experience,” says judges’ chair Ayo Onatade.
“It is a book full of fascinating characters, with a great sense of place.”
Judges: Ayo Onatade (chair), Dan Bassett and Susan Heads.
HWA Chair Imogen Robertson says: “One of the great pleasures of being the chair of the Historical Writers’ Association is seeing the range and brilliance of historical writing published in the UK each year. I’m very proud of being part of a community which provides so many hours of reading pleasure and food for thought.
“We should be very proud of our authors, agents and publishers and of the bookselling and book loving community who share and embrace these fantastic books. Congratulations to all the fantastic shortlisted authors, and I do hope all lovers of historical writing, fiction and nonfiction, find some of these treasures under the Christmas tree this year.”
Our thanks to the three teams of judges, who had both the pleasure of reading a large number of outstanding historical books and the agony of choosing just one winner in each category.
Historia spoke to Gold Crown Award winner Chris Lloyd after the ceremony.
Our series of interviews with authors of books shortlisted for the 2021 HWA Crown Awards began with Ellen Alpsten, shortlisted for a Debut Crown Award. Mick Finlay, who was shortlisted for the Gold Crown, was the second, and Stuart Turton, who was also up for the Gold Crown Award, was the third interviewee. The fourth is Linda Colley, shortlisted for the Non-fiction Crown.
The awards party
We held a smallish party in the perfect setting of St Ethelburga’s Bishopsgate to celebrate the HWA Crowns and HWA Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Competition winners. The lights went down for our announcement video, introduced by HWA Chair Imogen Robertson
We knew the results, but it was still a joy to watch them announced, and celebrate with Gold Crown winner Chris Lloyd (The Unwanted Dead), just right of centre in this photo
We think Chris was happy with the result
Chris was the only Crown Award winner who could come to the celebration; Alan Allport and Megan Campisi are both in the USA.
Some of the authors of the highly commended and shortlisted stories in the Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Competition also received their awards. Here’s Rachel Blackmore, highly commended for The Sister Time Forgot
Helen Cannam, shortlisted for The Fortune Teller
Hazel Turner was also shortlisted for Twelve Years to Grow Before Dark
Then it was time to relax, catch up with old friends, meet new members and fill our faces with cheese, supplied by the Cheese Tasting Company (with thanks to our sponsors, the History Press)
Delicious cheese and drinks
The HWA Dorothy Dunnett Short Story collection for 2021
A bit of merch
And the winning books and awards!
And our sponsors
All party photos by Fran Hales.