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Seddon biography wins prestigious award

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 11:55am

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History Professor Tom Brooking is thrilled to be co-winner of the 2015 Ernest Scott Prize for history.

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The cover of Professor Brooking's award-winning book.

Otago History Professor Tom Brooking has been announced as co-winner of the 2015 Ernest Scott Prize for history, for his book Richard Seddon, King of God’s Own: The Life and Times of New Zealand’s Longest-Serving Prime Minister.

The prestigious award is given annually by the Australian Historical Association to work based upon original research which is judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation.

Professor Brooking, a member of the University’s Centre for Research on Colonial Culture (CROCC), says he is delighted with the award.

“Not only for myself and my family but for the whole Department, former students and thesis writers, my own teachers, especially W. H. Oliver and Angus Ross, librarians and archivists who helped, numerous readers of various parts of the book, and my publisher Penguin.”

Richard Seddon, King of God’s Own is the first major biography of the late Prime Minister in nearly 60 years.

Professor Brooking says this meant he was able to incorporate the scholarship of more than two generations of New Zealand, British, Australian and American academics to “help understand a little better this fascinating man and the interesting times in which he lived”.

“The range of his interests also helped in that it turned out he had a complex involvement with Māori as well as playing an active role in British imperial affairs while advancing social legislation more than had been previously realised.”

Professor Brooking shares the 2105 award with Alan Atkinson, who wrote The Europeans in Australia, Vol 3: Nation.

He is the second member of the CROCC to have won this prize. Dr Angela Wanhalla won in 2014 for Matters of the Heart. A History of Interracial marriage in New Zealand, and Centre Director, Professor Tony Ballantyne, was shortlisted in 2013 for Webs of Empire: Locating New Zealand’s Colonial Past.