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 coronavirus pandemic it was not possible to hold a physical reception this year, so the 2020 Prize was awarded at an online reception held on the evening of Tuesday 17 November 2020. The winner was Jonathan Conlin, for his book Mr Five Per Cent. The Many Lives of Calouste Gulbenkian. The World’s Richest Man (Profile Books, 2019).

This year’s judges were Brian O’Sullivan (one of the joint winners of the 2019 prize); Alix Green (Senior Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Essex); and Tamara Thornhill (Corporate Archivist at Transport for London). Speaking on behalf of the judges, Brian O’Sullivan said:

‘The books shortlisted for the prize this year were uniformly of a high standard. They dealt with a variety of topics from the medieval wool trade through the development of the mass food market in Victorian London to industrial relations in the British car industry. However, the judging panel felt that one of the books was quite exceptional in its coverage and especially in the author’s extensive use of archival resources in several countries. The chosen book is far more than a biography of a fascinating individual, who through times of great turmoil managed, despite everything, to maintain his lucrative stake in the oil industry. The book provides considerable detail about the development of the international oil industry, which will be of great value to business historians. It also provides an interesting insight into the elite world of art collection, and the safeguarding of its legacy.’

In his acceptance speech Jonathan Conlin, who is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Southampton, thanked the BAC and the judges, and those who had been involved in his project. In particular, he paid tribute to the support given by the late Professor Richards Roberts (himself a two-times winner of the Wadsworth Prize).

This was the 42nd occasion on which the Prize has been awarded. Previous winners are listed here

Past prize winners.