The 2021 George Washington Prize has been awarded to Dr Mary Beth Norton for her book 1774: The Long Year of Revolution. The annual award recognizes the past year’s best works on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance a broad public understanding of early American history. Dr Mary Beth Norton is an Honorary Fellow of Newnham, and Mary Donlon Alger Professor Emerita at Cornell University.
1774 tells the important story of the sixteen months that separated the destruction of the East India Company tea in Boston Harbour to the marching of troops to Lexington and Concord. Readers are able to experience the uncertainty and unpredictability of this revolutionary moment.
“As I explain in the book, I have long thought that historians have unfortunately overlooked crucial developments in that year just prior to the outbreak of war,” Dr Norton explained. “It was in fact then — and not before — when many Americans decided that seeking independence would be desirable. Tracing precisely how that happened proved enlightening to me and I hope it will be the same for readers of the book.”
President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, James Basker said: “For the student of history and for the general reader, Mary Beth Norton’s 1774 will radically challenge the traditional view of the American Revolution — and it is a wonderful read!”
The $50,000 George Washington Prize is one of the USA’s largest and most notable literary awards, created jointly by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Washington College and historic home George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
(Photograph shows Dr Mary Beth Norton on her admission as an Honorary Fellow, with Dr Gill Sutherland (left) and former Principal, Prof Dame Carol Black (right))