Skip to Content

Queen’s academic wins American Conference of Irish Studies prize for book on Irish divorce

An historian from Queen’s University has won the 2021 James S. Donnelly Sr. Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences at the American Conference of Irish Studies (ACIS) for their book on the history of Irish divorce.

Diane Urquhart

Professor Diane Urquhart, expert in gender history from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s, won the prize for the publication Irish Divorce: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Established in 1960, the ACIS is the leading multidisciplinary scholarly organisation encouraging research and writing on Irish history, literature, folklore, language, social studies, and fine and applied arts. 

The ACIS judging panel commended Irish Divorce: A History’s 'ambitious socio-legal approach [that] reveals changes and continuities in Irish society, Catholic and Protestant, regarding gender roles and sexuality, property and legitimacy, propriety and morality. Making a complex array of evidence accessible and legible while continually pursuing larger implications, Irish Divorce is gender, legal, and social history of the highest calibre.'

The publication is the first full-length history of Irish divorce. Spanning three centuries and the island of Ireland, it places the human experience of marriage breakdown centre stage to explore the impact of a highly restrictive and gendered law and its protracted process of reform.

Speaking about winning the prestigious accolade, Professor Urquhart said: “I am honoured and delighted to win the ACIS James S. Donnelly Sr. Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences for Irish Divorce: A History.

“The book took over eight years to research and write and was always intended as a study that incorporated gender and socio-legal history so to receive this international recognition from the multidisciplinary ACIS is particularly special.”

For more information on Irish Divorce: A History by Professor Diane Urquhart, please visit Cambridge University Press