Pembroke Chinese Fellow’s Book Shortlisted for Wolfson History Prize 2023


Congratulations to Pembroke’s Stanley Ho Fellow and Tutor in Chinese, Professor Henrietta Harrison, whose book ‘The Perils of Interpreting: The Extraordinary Lives of Two Translators between Qing China and the British Empire’ has been shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2023.

First awarded by the Wolfson Foundation in 1972, the Wolfson History Prize is awarded annually to highlight the best historical writing being produced in the UK, celebrating books that combine excellent writing research with readability for a general audience.

Professor Harrison’s book, one of six to be shortlisted, reassesses a pivotal moment in relations between China and Britain as Harrison presents a picture of the 1793 British embassy to China through the lens of the meeting of two interpreters. Last year the book was awarded the Kenshur Prize from Indiana University Bloomington for the best book on 18th Century Studies.

Professor Harrison comments: “I’m really excited to be nominated for such a prestigious prize, but I also really enjoyed researching and writing the book.  As a historian of China it was fun to read eighteenth-century letters in the Bodleian as well as visiting remote Chinese villages as I followed these characters.  One of the interpreters, George Thomas Staunton, even visited Pembroke as a child in the 1790s and wrote about it in his diary, though sadly that didn’t quite make it into the book.”

Over its 51-year history, the Wolfson History Prize has been awarded to more than 120 historians, with previous winners including Simon Schama, Eric Hobsbawm, Amanda Vickery, Antony Beevor, Christopher Bayly, and Antonia Fraser. Visit to learn more.

Our warmest congratulations once again to Professor Harrison.

Henrietta Harrison holding copy of 'The Perils of Interpreting'