BAC Wadsworth Prize

The BAC Wadsworth Prize is awarded annually by the Business Archives Council for a book judged to have made an outstanding contribution to the study of British business history.

Due to the continuance of the coronavirus pandemic, it was not possible to hold a physical reception again this year, so the 2021 Prize was awarded at an online ceremony that followed the BAC AGM, on 10 November. The winner was Thomas Leng, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Sheffield, for his book Fellowship and Freedom: The Merchant Adventurers and the Restructuring of English Commerce, 1582-1700 (Oxford University Press, 2020).

This year’s judges were Jonathan Conlin, the winner of last year’s prize; Tamara Thornhill, Corporate Archivist at Transport for London and business historian Chris Swinson. Thomas Leng, in his acceptance speech, spoke about his pleasure that a business history from the early modern period had won the prize. Rather than draw on the documents of the Merchant Adventurers company itself, which are almost non-existent, the book instead uses the private papers of the merchants themselves to bring to life the realities of their social world. A second book was also highly commended, Jennifer Borge’s Protective Practices: A History of the London Rubber Company and the Condom Business.  

This was the 43rd  occasion on which the Prize has been awarded. Previous winners are listed here

Past prize winners.