The award was established in April 1888 by Mrs Rose Mary Crawshay as ‘The Byron, Shelley, Keats In Memoriam Yearly Prize Fund’. In 1914, some years after her death, the Charity Commissioners transferred the administration of the prize fund to the Academy. The Prize was first awarded in 1916.
Eligible nominations can be a for a historical or critical work on any subject connected with English Literature by a woman of any nationality provided that the nominated work is available in English. (Please note that, under the original terms, preference was given to a work regarding Byron, Shelley or Keats.)
How to nominate
Nominations may only be made by Fellows of the British Academy. Nominations for this Prize are currently closed.
Dr Marina MacKay for her book Ian Watt: the Novel and Wartime Critic (Oxford University Press, 2019).
Marina MacKay is Associate Professor of English and Tutorial Fellow of St Peter’s College, University of Oxford, where she teaches literature in English since 1830. Her other publications include Modernism and World War II (2007), British Fiction After Modernism (2007, co-edited with Lyndsey Stonebridge), The Cambridge Introduction to the Novel (2010), and Modernism, War, and Violence (2017).
Image copyright Edmund Blok
“Reconstructing the lacerating mid-century life and times of the critic Ian Watt—former soldier, prisoner of war, and slave labourer—my book is about how the Second World War haunts the canonical historiography of the novel. Given my topic, the news of this Prize is surprising as well as incredibly pleasing: I was never certain that anyone but me would want to read an entire book about an apparently unfashionable critic and a whole catalogue of traditional moral and intellectual virtues that surely no other academic monograph since the 1950s has named without scare quotes. So there are many reasons to be grateful to the jury of the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize—for a start, the tremendous happiness of unexpectedly finding myself in the company of a century of formidably distinguished women—and the important reminder to be less afraid about writing a book that you believe needs to be written rather than the sort of thing you imagine you’re expected to write." - Dr Marina MacKay, August 2019
(The current convention is that one prize is awarded each year, but the list below shows that in the past there have often been two winners in a year.)
2018 Professor Emma J. Clery for Eighteen Hundred and Eleven: Poetry, Protest and Economic Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
2017 Dr Kate Bennett for John Aubrey, Brief Lives with an Apparatus for the Lives of our English Mathematical Writers (Volume I & II) (Oxford University Press, 2015)
2016 Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge for The Judicial Imagination: Writing after Nuremberg (Edinburgh University Press, 2011)
2015 Professor Catherine Bates for Masculinity and the Hunt: Wyatt to Spenser (Oxford University Press, 2013); Professor Ankhi Mukherjee for What is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon (Stanford University Press, 2014)
2014 Dr Hannah Sullivan for The Work of Revision (Harvard University Press, 2013)
2012 Professor Julie Sanders for The Cultural Geography of Early Modern Drama 1620-1650
2011 Professor Fiona Stafford for Local Attachments: The Province of Poetry (Oxford University Press)
2010 Dr Daisy Hay for Young Romantics (Bloomsbury)
2008 Dr Helen W Small for The Long Life (Oxford University Press)
2007 Dr Susan Oliver for Scott, Byron and the Politics of Cultural Encounter (Palgrave)
2006 Dr Rosalind Ballaster for Fabulous Orients: Fictions of the East in England 1662-1785 (Oxford University Press)
2005 Judith Farr with Louise Carter for The Gardens of Emily Dickinson (Harvard University Press); Dr Claire Preston for Thomas Browne and the Writing of Early Modern Science (Cambridge University Press)
2002 Professor Wendy Doniger for The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade (University of Chicago Press); Professor Kate Flint for The Victorians and the Visual Imagination (Cambridge University Press)
2001 Dr Annette Peach for Portraits of Byron (reprinted from the Walpole Society Volume LXII); Dr Lucy Newlyn for Reading, Writing, and Romanticism: The Anxiety of Reception (Oxford University Press)
2000 Marina Warner for No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock (Chatto and Windus; Vintage); Joanne Wilkes for Lord Byron and Madame de Staël: Born for Opposition (Ashgate)