The Saltire Society announces the 2023 shortlists for Scotland's National Book Awards

Published: 26 October 2023

University of Glasgow historian Professor Steven Reid has been shortlisted in the History category

The Saltire Society have announced the shortlisted titles for the 2023 Scotland’s National Book Awards which this year include books on climate change, the importance of male friendships, King James VI and deeply personal memoir.

The winners of all six prizes, as well as the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, The Lifetime Achievement Award, The Ross Roy Medal and three industry awards, will be announced at a ceremony at in Glasgow on 7 December 2023.

Scotland’s National Book Awards, co-ordinated by the Saltire Society, recognise work across six literary categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Research, History, Poetry and First Book) and three publishing categories (Publisher, Emerging Publisher and Cover Design).  The Literary Awards see the winners each receive a cash prize of £2,000 and go on to be considered for the top Award of Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, receiving a further £4,000.

University of Glasgow historian Professor Steven Reid has been shortlisted in the History Book Award category - which celebrates the significance of Scotland’s history and heritage in partnership with The Scottish Historical Review Trust. Professor Reid's is among six shortlisted in this category for THE EARLY LIFE OF JAMES VI: A Long Apprenticeship, 1566–1585 published by Birlinn Ltd.

Professor Reid said: "I am honoured and thrilled that The Early Life of James VI is nominated in the History Book of the Year category. Scotland's National Book Awards are the gold standard of book prizes celebrating the nation's rich literary culture, and it's wonderful simply to make the shortlist.' If you need more, you could add: 'It's particularly welcome as I know the version of James presented in the book departs considerably from established views of his childhood and rise to power."

Professor Laura Stewart, representing the Scottish Historical Review Trust, said: "This is a shortlist impressive for its range of subject matter and the quality of the writing. The way in which the shortlist as a whole places this country and its people into European and global contexts speaks volumes about the outward-looking, intellectually expansive nature of both scholarly and popular history writing in Scotland today. Commendations also to all our publishers for a set of beautifully illustrated and presented works."

Sarah Mason, Executive Director of The Saltire Society, said: “The 2023 shortlists for Scotland’s National Book Awards show the outstanding talent, scale, diversity and excellence that we are so lucky to have in Scotland today.  These Awards have a proud history of celebrating the extraordinary richness in the work of our authors, publishers and designers and we congratulate everyone who have been shortlisted this year. "

The Ross Roy Medal, commemorating the outstanding contribution to Scottish literature made by Professor G. Ross Roy of South Carolina University, is awarded annually to the best PhD thesis submitted on a subject relating to Scottish literature and judged by the University Committee for Scottish Literature.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is for individuals who have made and are making a lasting impact and are imbedded in the literary culture of Scotland.  Nominees must be either born in Scotland, are currently living in Scotland or working in or for Scotland and have been put forward by members of the general public.

The Scottish National Book Awards have been awarded by the Saltire Society since 1937 and in 2023 are supported by The National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Historical Review Trust and by the estate of Saltire Society Member Alistair George Gunn.  All entrants must be born in Scotland, live in Scotland or their books must be about Scotland. 


Scotland’s National Book Awards 

The winners of each category will receive a bespoke Award created by Inverness-based artist Simon Baker of Evergreen Studios.  Winners of all the Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Glasgow on Thursday 7 December 2023, attended by the judges, shortlisted authors and publishers.  The ceremony will be live-streamed and tickets to watch online are available from 20 November on

History Award – Shortlist

  • The Material Landscapes of Scotland’s Jewellery Craft, 1780-1914 by Sarah Laurenson. Publisher Bloomsbury.
  • Majestic River: Mungo Park and the Exploration of the Niger by Charles Withers publisher Birlinn Ltd.
  • One Mans Legacy: Tom Patey by Mike Dixon, published by Scottish Mountaineering Press.
  • The Whalers of Harris by Ian Hart publisher Acair.
  • THE PEOPLE ARE NOT THERE’ The Transformation of Badenoch 1800–1863 by David Taylor published by Birlinn Ltd.
  • THE EARLY LIFE OF JAMES VI: A Long Apprenticeship, 1566–1585 by Steven J. Reid published by Birlinn Ltd.

First published: 26 October 2023