National History Center Director Wm. Roger Louis has won the Benson Medal of the Royal Society of Literature, the oldest literary society in Britain, founded in 1820 to honor “meritorious works in poetry, fiction, history and belles-lettres.” The medal, the society’s highest recognition of lifetime achievement, is awarded, according to the Society, “to those whom the Society feels have given many years of outstanding service to literature.” Past recipients have included Lytton Strachey, Edith Sitwell, E.M. Forster, Wole Soyinka, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Nadine Gordimer.
Louis was singled out for “the enormous contribution you have made to English literature — both through your own writing, and through the support and assistance you have given other writers over several decades.” In addition to his role in founding and directing the National History Center of the American Historical Association, Louis has for nearly 40 years directed the Faculty Seminar in British Studies at the University of Texas, where he holds the Kerr Chair in English History and Culture and chairs the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. The Seminar aids writers from throughout the British empire by providing them opportunities to present their work to American audiences and publishing their contributions in the Adventures with Britannia book series. Louis also assists younger writers at the University of Texas through the Churchill Scholarships.
His own books include the award-winning Imperialism at Bay, 1941-1945 (1977) and The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951 (1984); as well as Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez, and Decolonization: Collected Essays (2006). His major editorial projects include the five-volume Oxford History of the British Empire (1998-99) and the recently completed Volume 3 of the official history of the Oxford University Press.