Apr. 2021: Mary Hardy volumes Highly Commended for Rural History Prize

All eight Mary Hardy volumes by Margaret Bird have been awarded Highly Commended in the Thirsk Prize for the Best Book in British or Irish Rural or Agrarian History 2021.

“An amazing source”

Dr Paul Brassley, President of the British Agricultural History Society, made the announcement at the society’s AGM held online on 12 April 2021. The panel of judges for this year’s prize found the Mary Hardy books “an amazing source for economic and social historians”. Margaret Bird’s work was judged “a magnum opus in every sense”.

The President’s tribute to the Mary Hardy project can be heard in this YouTube clip, starting 2:12 minutes into the recording:

Writing to the Prize candidates just before the start of the AGM, the society’s Acting Secretary Professor Richard Hoyle recorded the judges’ verdict that the Mary Hardy volumes were “a major achievement and a work of enduring scholarship”. They are published by Burnham Press.

The winner of the Thirsk Prize this year was a work on antimicrobial resistance by Assistant Professor Claas Kirchhelle of University College, Dublin. His study Pyrrhic Progress: The history of antibiotics in Anglo-American food production was particularly topical “in a plague year”.

Many congratulations to Dr Kirchhelle.

An East Anglian study

Paul Brassley referred to the very wide range of topics, relating to various countries, submitted this year. Mary Hardy, he explained, was firmly rooted in East Anglia.

Malting, in which the Hardys were involved for 120 years, was—and is—one of the region’s leading industries. It is commemorated by the amber malt, the prime ingredient in light ales, seen at the banner.

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Margaret Bird

Margaret Bird in 2016

The editor and author of the Mary Hardy volumes

You can read about the historian Margaret Bird on the link above

See inside…