Anna Keay’s “The Restless Republic” wins £5,000 Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize

The Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize for Best Non-Fiction Published in the UK 2022 was awarded to Anna Keay for The Restless Republic: Britain without a crown (WilliamCollins), The Bookseller reports.

According to the report, the book, described by the jury as a “compelling and immensely readable” account of Britain’s national experiment in republicanism between 1649 and 1660, aims “to breathe life and light into an all too often overlooked decade”.

The Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize, supported by Pol Roger and operated by the Duff Cooper Memorial Fund, a charity based at New College, Oxford, was first awarded in 1956 and has been awarded annually ever since. 

The judges this year were Artemis Cooper, Miles Young, Principal of New College, Oxford, Mark Amory, Susan Bridgen and David Horspool.

Keay, a historian, writer and curator, who is currently director of the Landmark Trust and has previously held senior curatorial roles for English Heritage and Historic Royal Palaces, receives £5,000, a magnum of Pol Roger champagne and a copy of Old men forget Autobiography by Duff Cooper.

Her books include The magnificent monarch And The Last Royal Rebel: The Life and Death of James Duke of Monmouth (Bloomsbury). A regular history and heritage building presenter on television, she is a Trustee of the Royal Collection Trust, Visiting Professor at Birmingham City University and received an OBE for services to history and heritage in 2019.

Artemis Cooper, Chair of the Jury, said: “Anna Keay writes with a clear understanding of the political mysteries of the time; what makes The Troubled Republic so compelling are the stories of the men and women who lived through them. People like the nimble defector Marchamont Nedham, editor of Mercurius Politicus, who created popular propaganda for the Commonwealth; or the formidable Countess of Derby, who owned one of the last royalist redoubts on the Isle of Man; or Gerrard Winstanley’s Levellers trying to grow food on common land in Weybridge and Cobham – an idea too radical to garner much support from Surrey landowners.

“Packed with entertaining and insightful insights, this is a highly readable book about a little-known era. I will never look at the interregnum like this again, since I learned that Christmas in Norfolk was invariably celebrated with wine, mince pies and music, despite all edicts from London.”


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