The University of Edinburgh Humanities and Social Science

Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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The Dorothy Dunnett History Prize

The Dorothy Dunnett History Prize 2013, worth £1000, is offered by the Dorothy Dunnett Society in pursuit of its constitutional aim:
“to advance the education of the public concerning the history, politics, culture and religion of the 11th, 15th and 16th centuries by promoting the study of and research into such subjects particularly as they relate to the works of Dorothy Dunnett and to disseminate to the public the results of such research.”

Entrants should submit an essay of no more than 4,000 words, in English, based on their original research.

The winner(s) will be notified by mid-December 2013.


The winner(s) will be expected to give a short account (30 minutes including questions) of their research on April 5th 2014 at the Dorothy Dunnett Weekend event in Edinburgh (or at another event if that is not possible). The essay will be published by the Society in the June 2014 issues of its house journal “Whispering  Gallery” which is distributed quarterly to its international membership and on its website (

  Thematic guidelines

 The novels of Scottish writer Dorothy Dunnett (1923-2001) are supported by extensive geographical and historical research, and have wide-ranging settings including (using present-day names) Scotland, Norway, Belgium, France, Italy, Cyprus, Russia, Turkey, England, Iceland, Poland, Algeria, Gambia and Mali.  Her work explores many issues of political, military and cultural/social history.

The author set her fictional characters within the actual events and among the real people of the times. Her novels also explore more general themes including: the development of trade; banking; exploration and discovery; the role of women; the rise of industries such as printing and dyeing; diplomacy and spying; social mobility; transport and travel; domestic life; contemporary literature, music, art and artists; the role of religion and religious communities; conflict and war.

Essays may address any aspect of current historical research that meets the Society’s aims and/or falls within the thematic guidelines or other relevant topics and is contained, broadly, within the time periods of the novels.

We are seeking submissions that reflect Dorothy Dunnett’s skill in bringing alive the events and people of her chosen periods.


 Entries for the Prize will be accepted from history students registered on a PhD programme at any recognised higher education institution.


Submissions which do not meet the word-length requirement will not be considered. The word count does not include footnotes, however these should be restricted to the documentation of claims and the registration of relevant caveats or observations. Footnotes must not be used to circumvent the word count length in relation to the argument of the essay. A short bibliography should be attached.


Submissions will be considered by a panel of Trustees of the Dorothy Dunnett Society and academics drawn from the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The panel may decide to divide the prize amongst a number of winners. The decision of the panel is final.

The winner(s) will be notified by email by mid-December 2013.

The Prize

The prize will be paid in British pounds sterling .

How to enter

The cover sheet for the essay submission and further information on Dorothy Dunnett’s novels can be downloaded from the website of the Centre of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Edinburgh,

Entries may be submitted either as an electronic attachment in MS Word format (to ) or as hard copy by post to Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, History, Classics and Archaeology,  William Robertson Wing, Teviot Place, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9AG.

The closing date for this year’s competition is November 25th.

Previous Winners

2011 - Mark Whelan, Royal Holloway, University of London
'Merchant, Administrator and General: Filippo Scolari in the service of the Hungarian  King, 1397-1426'
2012 - Benjamin Lacey, University of Sheffield
'Relic Theft and the Church of Durham in Eleventh-Century Society'
2013 -

Natalie Lussey, University of Edinburgh
'Artisans, Printers and Traders in Renaissance Venice: The Case of Giovanni Andrea Vavassore'


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