Lancing Historians Triumph in Prestigious Awards

Lancing historians have again triumphed this summer in some of the most prestigious nationwide History essay competitions. Isaac H, Gibbs’, has been awarded the highly regarded Young Historian Award for World War One by the Historical Association. Chris C, Teme, was also a finalist and runner-up for History in the hugely competitive Libra Essay Prize, and he has just been highly commended for his work towards the fiercely contested Julia Wood History Essay Prize at St Hugh’s, Oxford. These are exceptional achievements and are a reflection of Isaac and Chris’ outstanding abilities as historians. They are also grounded in the History Department’s longstanding commitment to the encouragement of independence of thought, wider reading, and research far beyond the curriculum, from the Lancing Heresy Project to the toughest Oxbridge Essay Prizes. This is a creative and intellectual joy in itself. It is also fundamental to the Department’s consistent high-level success at both A-Level and elite university entrance, including Oxbridge.

Dr Damian Kerney - Head of History

 Isaac H has been awarded this year’s much coveted Young Historian Award for World War One by the Historical Association for his essay ‘How did spy and invasion literature affect the British views of Germany in the run up to WWI?’ The prize was awarded for an ‘extraordinarily good’ piece of historical research, rich in reading and written with real flair. Isaac is a very fine historian in the making, with exceptional cultural range, and he has a formidable future as an historical writer.

It was a great pleasure to take part in the Young Historian Award competition. I really enjoyed both the research and writing stage of the project and loved digging deeper into the genre of spy literature pre-WWI which has become an area of real interest to me. It gave me an opportunity to practise my essay writing and to explore the effect that books have on public sentiment. I am also very chuffed to have won my category

Isaac H

Chris C has had a golden summer of achievement as an historian. He was a finalist and then runner-up in History with a ‘special mention’ in this year’s fiercely competitive annual Libra Essay Prize, writing with acute, deeply researched insight on the issue of nuclear security. He has also just been highly commended for an outstanding piece of historical writing for this year’s prestigious Julia Wood History Prize awarded by St Hugh’s College, Oxford. The awarders of the prize were ‘greatly impressed’ by the quality of his essay ‘A Bad Deal: The Dangers of Hosting American Nuclear Weapons in Britain, 1954-63’, and he has been invited up to the College to meet the tutors in History. His talents as an historian are very rightly securing national plaudits.

I recently picked up an amazing book, Eric Schlosser’s Command and Control on the history of nuclear safety. It captivated me with its larger than life characters, monumental scale and complete absurdity. It felt like it was straight out of a Victorian science fiction novel, except it was all real. To put it simply, the recent Nolan film Oppenheimer did not have to deviate very far from reality to make it a hit. This drove me into a tunnel of books and jstor articles, which all highlighted to me the real unknown lack of safety surrounding nuclear weapons. Through all the crises of the Cold War up until 1979, the combination code lock on US weapons was “00000000”. The documents detailing the accidents and misses involving these weapons just across a three year period amount to over 200 pages. This I wrote about in my Libra Essay. Up until this point, I was still fairly at ease with Britain’s role. This is just the Americans right? Nothing to do with the British. However, I found, somewhat to my horror, that Britain had been storing American weapons on our soil for the majority of this period. This not only created a hazard for the people near the bases, given America’s extremely poor handling of the weapons, but it also made the UK a considerable target. This I explored in my Julia Wood Essay. The whole world of nuclear weapons’ history is fascinating, and I strongly encourage everybody to read Schlosser’s book. It details the significant problems we continue to face in 2023, which are still poorly understood.

Chris C