School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Book prize for Richard Sowerby

The School of History, Classics and Archaeology was delighted to hear that Dr Richard Sowerby's monograph 'Angels in Early Medieval England'(OUP, 2016) was joint winner of the inaugural Best First Book Prize from the Ecclesiastical History Society. (Published 6 February, 2017)

HCA Richard Sowerby

Dr Richard Sowerby, Lecturer in Early Medieval Insular History, was recently named joint winner of the inaugral Best First Book Prize at the Ecclesiastical History Society. This is the second award for his book 'Angels in Early Medieval England' (OUP, 2016) which was also joint winner of Best First Book Prize at the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists.

Dr Sowerby said, 'It is a real honour to receive this award from the Ecclesiastical History Society. I had always hoped that the book might have something to say to historians whose primary interests lay outside the Middle Ages, as well as to early medieval specialists. The wide remit of the Society’s interests, spanning more than two thousands years and many different regions of the world, therefore make this award particularly meaningful, as do the kind words of the book prize committee.'


The committee was struck by the author’s lively intelligence and perception which enabled him to show how angels were to ‘good to think’ with, to borrow Lévi-Strauss’s famous formulation. Sowerby’s capacity to relate the particular to wider points was consistently impressive and the overall argument beautifully controlled. As an exercise in using a seemingly partial and relatively minor aspect of Anglo-Saxon Christianity as a lens to illuminate that society’s wider relationship with the supernatural, the monograph is a substantial achievement. The book is also stylishly written and has a quiet, unshowy, yet authoritative thoughtfulness that commands not only respect but also admiration.

Judging Committee

Richard Sowerby's staff profile

Richard Sowerby wins book prize

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