The British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) awarded the 2013 Dingle Prize to David Wright for Downs: The History of a Disability. Published by Oxford University Press this excellent book is a genuine attempt to engage a wide audience of non-specialists in a way that reflects some of the major virtues of current historiography of medicine and science. The judges commented that Wright has produced “a terrific book” and “a little gem”, which “has valuable contributions to make to current debates” in the history of science and medicine. In dealing with the history of Down’s syndrome – a subject for which very few other wide-ranging historical studies exist, but for which there is a substantial secondary literature from other perspectives – Wright has also achieved the Prize’s requirement to “re-examine a well-known historical incident or achievement, or bring new perspective to previously neglected figures or fields in the past.” Wright’s book faced stiff competition from over sixty other nominations, and this represents the largest field of entries ever for this competition.
The BSHS Dingle Prize is awarded every two years to “the best book in the history of science (broadly construed) published in English … which is accessible to a wide audience of non-specialists.” The prize is very much in keeping with the Society’s concern to communicate history of science to broad audiences.
The Prize was established in 1997 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Society, and is named after the mathematician, astronomer and philosopher of science Herbert Dingle, a founder member of the BSHS.
May 29, 2013