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Helion First World War Prizes, in association with the Western Front Association

Western Front Association Helion & Company, in association with the Western Front Association (WFA), are delighted to announce a series of prizes recognising First World War scholarship. There is a tremendous breadth and depth of quality research being undertaken on innumerable aspects of the First World War, and it seems appropriate to recognise this on a formal and structured basis.

There will be three bi-annual awards. Entrants will be requested to submit a book proposal based on either a PhD thesis, MA dissertation or as a result of private research. We have assembled a distinguished panel to assess the entries, and the first year’s results were announced at an Oriental Club function on 24 November 2015. For further information about the 2015 awards read our blog about it here.

All prize-winners will receive a publishing contract from Helion, a very respectable cash sum and bronze figurine. The prize pot for 2017/18 will be announced as soon as possible, but will continue to make the awards a significant presence in the non-fiction/academic world. After much deliberation amongst panel members, we decided to name the awards as follows:

  • The Edmonds Prize – for a proposal based on a PhD
  • The Holmes Prize – for a proposal based on an MA
  • The Terraine Prize – for a proposal based on private research

Prize names have been selected in honour of the following historians whose contribution to the available First World War historiography remains influential and enduring:

Brigadier-General Sir James Edward Edmonds CB, CMG (1861 – 1956) was responsible for the post-war compilation of the monumental 28-volume History of the Great War. Edmonds himself wrote nearly half the volumes, including 11 of the 14 western front monographs (Military Operations: France and Belgium). This task was not completed until publication of the final volume in 1949.

Brigadier-General Edward Richard Holmes, CBE, TD, JP (1946 –2011) was a soldier and military historian, particularly well-known through his many television appearances. He was co-director of Cranfield University‘s Security and Resilience Group from 1989 to 2009 and became the Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield in 1995. His notable contributions to First World War scholarship include The Little Field Marshal: A Life of Sir John French (1981), Riding the Retreat: Mons to Marne: 1914 Revisited, (1995) and Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front (2004).

Highly respected throughout his seventeen-year term (1980 – 1997) as WFA Founder President, John Alfred Terraine (1921 – 2003), though not permanently associated with a specific academic institution, was a pre-eminent revisionist military historian. He is best known for his spirited and persistent defence of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig‘s reputation and also as the leading screenwriter for the BBC‘s landmark 1964 documentary The Great War. His notable contributions to First World War scholarship include, amongst others, Mons: The Retreat to Victory (1960), Douglas Haig: The Educated Soldier (1963), General Jack’s Diary (1964) and The Smoke and the Fire (1980).

In addition, the panel may award, at their discretion, a number of distinctions for work deemed worthy of publication etc. but which did not win named prizes. These will carry lesser cash awards.

Duncan Rogers, owner of Helion, commented, “I’m hugely excited at the opportunity this gives us to work with, and acknowledge, the quality of research individuals are currently undertaking. I’d like to thank the panellists and the Western Front Association for joining us on this journey – I believe we’re going to be seeing some groundbreaking work published in the coming years, and want Helion to be very much involved in that. We are dedicated to producing high-quality books, penned by committed and knowledgeable authors that provide readers and scholarship with new material, fresh angles and perceptions.”

Dr Spencer Jones of Wolverhampton University added “The First World War centenary has already produced an astonishing array of publications. In the current mood there is a risk that high quality, research driven work on the conflict will be passed over or else be published at a price far beyond the reach of the general public. In these circumstances the Helion/Western Front Association First World War prize series offers a fantastic opportunity for scholars and prospective authors who are committed to highly quality research. The combination of generous monetary reward and a guaranteed publishing contract with a highly regarded publisher is unique.”

Bob Paterson, Chairman of the WFA: “On behalf of the WFA as a whole, can I express how pleased we are to be involved in these awards. The furthering of education is one of the WFA’s key objectives and these awards perfectly assist in this quest. Education gives us knowledge of the First World War and the world around it. It helps us form opinions of the war and develop a point of view. Education makes us capable of interpreting things correctly and our hope is that the awards will encourage researchers and writers to add to our knowledge of the Great War and make their findings accessible beyond a narrow academic audience.”