I love hearing about philanthropists who endow prizes in memory of someone they love.
The Ernest Scott Prize for History was founded by Emily Scott in memory of her husband Emeritus Professor Sir Ernest Scott Knight Bachelor. He was professor of History at the University was for 23 years, from 1913-1936.
Paraphrasing from the website at the University of Melbourne:
It seems that he must have been a remarkable, self-made man. An illegitimate child in the days when that was a stigma, he was brought up by his grandparents and although he didn’t complete higher education, he worked as a journalist for twenty years. He was a Fabian and a Theosophist, and he married the daughter of Annie Besant, a prominent activist for women’s rights. The couple migrated to Melbourne in 1892.
The prize commemorates his interest in the development of Australian historical studies. His books on Australian exploration history made Scott into a professional among amateurs and antiquarians. He inspired his students to do archival research and to ask critical questions of popular historical mythologies. A generation of young Australians learned about the country’s past from his notable Short History of Australia (1916).
Among the shortlisted books for the Ernest Scott Prize are two that I have reviewed. My review of Tasmanian Aborigines: A History Since 1803 is among my top ten most visited posts, with 2,355 hits as of today’s date, and I think it is one of the most important histories published because it so comprehensively debunks the myths that have surrounded the history of Tasmanian Aborigines for most of the 20th century.
- Webs of Empire: Locating New Zealand’s Colonial Pasts by Tony Ballantyne, Bridget Williams Books
- Larrikins: A History, by Melissa Bellanta, UQP See my review.
- University Unlimited: The Monash Story, by Graeme Davison & Kate Murphy, A&U
- The Lone Protestor: A M Fernando in Australia and Europe, by Fiona Paisley, Aboriginal Studies Press (I’ve just reserved this at the library)
- The Tasmanian Aborigines: A New History, by Lyndall Ryan, A&U
Thanks to the University of Melbourne (who administer the prize) for the information about Ernest Scott and to Bookseller and Publisher for their tweet about this shortlist.
Congratulations to all the authors and publishers.