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Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018
Miranda Kaufmann is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of London's Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She has appeared on Sky News, the BBC and Al Jazeera, and she's written for The Times, Guardian and BBC History Magazine. She lives in Pontblyddyn in North Wales.
On Black Tudors: The Untold Story:
I wrote Black Tudors because I wanted to share the fascinating stories of Africans in Tudor England that I had uncovered with the public. I wanted to show that black people had been living in England for far longer than many people imagined, that they were free, not enslaved, and how this Black history is inextricably intertwined with British history.
It’s overwhelming to have been shortlisted for such a prestigious prize, which over the years has been won by so many historians I revere and admire. That the prize is awarded to books considered both scholarly and readable is particularly gratifying, because combining those two qualities was exactly what I was trying to achieve with Black Tudors.
Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018 Combining exemplary investigative research with enthralling readability and a radiant human touch, this book will surely transform commonly-held perceptions of sixteenth century England, and the role of minorities in British history. Through detailed portraits of ten fascinating individuals whose stories have gone untold, this book lays bare the varied and often vital roles played by Africans who lived free and varied lives in Tudor times. As the author points out in her introduction, the popular view is that “people of African origin first arrived in England when the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury in 1948.” Not so, and the author also rebuffs the assumption that African presence in Tudor England was always an experience of “enslavement and discrimination”. Among these absorbing pages we discover John Blanke, a King’s trumpeter, most likely to have been born in North or West Africa, and Jacques Francis, a salvage diver who was the first known African to testify before an English court. Then there’s Moroccan Mary Fillis who came to England as a child and was baptised. This riveting reassessment of an oft-explored era deserves to be widely read. ~ Joanne Owen