Two Oriel Academics Shortlisted for Prestigious Wolfson History Prize

  • book covers for A History of the Bible by John Barton and Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner
28 May, 2020

Emeritus Fellow and former Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, Professor John Barton, has been shortlisted for his bestselling book A History of the Bible. College Lecturer in English, Jesus College Fellow Professor Marion Turner, has been shortlisted for her book Chaucer: A European Life.

The Wolfson History Prize is the most prestigious literary history prize in the UK, with a prize of £40,000 for the winner, who will be announced on Monday 15th June in a virtual ceremony. Only six books make the shortlist each year, so it is extraordinary for Oriel to be connected with two of them.

Professor Barton's Sunday Times bestselling book, A History of the Bible, seeks to "dispel the image of the Bible as a sacred monolith between two black leather covers" and "to recapture the sense of it as a long and intriguing process"; rather than a fixed and immutable text. John held the post of Oriel and Laing Fellow of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oriel from 1991 to 2014, and is still an active member of the College's SCR.

Professor Turner's book, Chaucer: A European Life, looks at Chaucer's life from an unusual perspective and 'reveals him as a great European writer and thinker. To understand his accomplishment, she reconstructs in unprecedented detail the cosmopolitan world of Chaucer’s adventurous life, focusing on the places and spaces that fired his imagination'. Her book expands our understanding of Chaucer as a great and instrumental figure in English Literature, showing how he was influenced by his travels and experiences beyond British shores. Marion is a Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, but has taught Oriel students for many years.

We wish both Marion and John the best of luck, and congratulate them on this great achievement!