SRS Book Prize 2014: Winner Announced





The 2014 SRS book prize was awarded to Alec Ryrie for his book, Being Protestant in Reformation Britain (OUP, 2013). Two other books were highly commended, Guido Alfani, Calamaties and the Economy in Renaissance Italy: The Grand Tour of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, trans. Christine Calvert (Palgrave, 2013), and Sharon Gregory, Vasari and the Renaissance Print (Ashgate, 2012).

The judges were impressed by the high standard of the books entered for the prize and were extremely grateful to all the many publishers who sent in their books to the committee making the decision of choosing a winner extremely difficult. 

Professor Gregory's book was singled out by all three judges because of its comprehensive nature and painstaking research in making available for a wide readership all the prints associated with Giorgio Vasari, and for providing a fascianting commentary that explains why they were so central to his thinking and artisitic practices. The book is the product of many years of serious scholarship and is exactly the sort of work that justifies what academics do in opening up the archive for others to understand and use and which makes being part of the profession a pleasure. The committee also wishes to congratulate the publishers for producing such high quality images.

Professor Alfani's book was chose because it is a comprehensive and stimulating study of the disasters that ravaged Europe in the sixteenth century: death, war, plague, and famine. All the judges agreed that this was a work of admirable ambition, a big ideas book that will inspire readers to further research, and which has a relevance for anyone working on the darker aspects of the Renaissance. The work has a command of an extremely wide range of sources and disciplines, encompassing population history, military history and medical history and is never short of insight into the misery that Europeans experienced throughout the continent in the eraly modern period.

Professor Ryrie's book was, however, the unanimous winner. All the judges commented with admiration on its ability to combine serious ideas and a breadth of vision with meticulous attention to detail. The book asks a simple, central question that is of interest to anyone working in this period: what did it feel like to be a Protestant immediately after the Reformation? From this follow a series of other questions that structure the book: How did you have to change your thinking? What forms of worship did you feel you could adopt? How might you have thought of your Catholic neighbours and your ancestors? What did it feel like to learn that you could talk directly to God without the intervention of the church? How did you read? What was the household in which you lived like? Being Protestant in Reformation England is a long book but it never feels unduly prolix. Its wealth of insights into early modern British life - and, by analogy, European religion - make it a worthy winner of the 2nd. SRS book prize.