Margaret Busby OBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a major cultural figure in Britain and around the world.
She was born in Ghana and educated in the UK, graduating from London University. She became Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s, presiding as editorial director over an international list of notable authors including Buchi Emecheta, Nuruddin Farah, Sam Greenlee, Rosa Guy, Roy Heath, Chester Himes, C. L. R. James, George Lamming, Michael Moorcock, Adrian Mitchell, Jill Murphy, Ishmael Reed, Michele Roberts, John Edgar Wideman and Val Wilmer.
A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, she has also written drama for BBC radio and the stage. Her radio abridgements and dramatisations encompass work by Henry Louis Gates, Timothy Mo, Walter Mosley, Jean Rhys, Sam Selvon and Wole Soyinka. She has interviewed high-profile writers (among them Toni Morrison and Ngu˜gı˜ wa Thiong’o), judged prestigious literary prizes including the Booker Prize, and served on the boards of such organisations as the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Tomorrow’s Warriors, and the Africa Centre in London.
A long-time campaigner for diversity in publishing, she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of several honorary doctorates and awards, including the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal, and the Royal African Society’s inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award.
Interviews and Features
Books to help you escape lockdown by Bernardine Evaristo
‘I’ve been making my way through New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent, edited by Margaret Busby (2019). It’s more than 1,056 pages long and yes, I’m in it, but so are more than 200 other writers. The first incarnation of the book, Daughters of Africa (1992), is even longer and features another couple of hundred writers. Bringing together fiction, poetry, memoir and essays, both books are an incredible introduction to black women’s writing from around the world, and feature every established name you can imagine, as well those who deserve to be better known.’
Bernardine Evaristo, contributor to Brave New Words, New Daughters of Africa and joint-winner of the Booker Prize 2019 with her novel Girl, Woman, Other joins a rich list of authors and politicians discussing the best books to read during Lockdown for The Guardian. Read more.
Marie Claire and This is Book Love choose New Daughters of Africa to educate the masses.
Marie Claire asked Samantha Williams, campaigner and founder of independent multicultural book supplier This is Book Love to hand-pick a selection of titles to help educate yourself and your children – on race and racism. Included in her list was New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby and available to buy here.
Listen to Me Sister, International Women's Day
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, Ros Martin organised Listen to Me Sister, celebrating writing from New Daughters of Africa and honouring the words of African women.
The event brought alive a range of writings: essay, commentary, provocation, short story and poetry from women of the African continent and its diaspora in US, Caribbean and UK others, their struggles past & present and view on life and the world around them from over 200 hundred years.
This public event was supported by the University of Bristol’s Centre of Black Humanities.
Photograph of Ros Barber by Christelle Pellecuer.
100 Pioneering Women of Sussex with Margaret Busby
‘In the 1990s, she edited the ground-breaking anthology Daughters of Africa (Jonathan Cape, 1992) and its 2019 follow-up New Daughters of Africa, published by Myriad Editions, who has an office in Brighton. The 2019 anthology has been nominated for NAACP Awards for Outstanding Literary Work 2020 and a Lifetime Achievement in African Literature by Africa Writes in 2019. Each anthology compiles more than 200 women from Africa and the African diaspora.
The title references a call to action from first African-American public speaker Maria W Stewart, who said in 1831:
‘O, ye daughters of Africa, awake! awake! arise! no longer sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves. Show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble and exalted faculties.’’
Amy is one of the creative team behind Writing our Legacy, raising awareness of the contributions of Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) writers, poets, playwrights and authors born, living or connected to Sussex and the South East.
Zadie Smith in conversation with Pamela Paul
Women's History Month with Brittle Paper
Brittle Paper celebrated Women’s History Month by featuring women writers from Daughters of Africa and New Daughters of Africa; monumental anthologies edited by Margaret Busby. Head to their instagram profile to see which authors they chose to feature.
Books in the Media feature New Daughters of Africa
New Daughters of Africa by Margaret Busby was reviewed by The Bookseller, Financial Times and The Irish Times amongst many others, and was given a round up by Books in the Media, along with a 4/5 star rating.
West End Extra, the independent London Newspaper
Margaret Busby’s New Daughters of Africa featured in West End Extra, with journalist John Gulliver speaking fondly of colleague Angela Cobbinah’s contribution. The feature included a photograph of Angela Cobbinah alongside Nah Dove, Harriet Evans and Shezan Renny at the Owl Bookshop in London.
Red magazine: '10 books by brilliant women around the world'
‘Subtitled “an international anthology of writing by women of African descent’, this collection gathers together women’s voices from Antigua to Zimbabwe as they share their experiences of sisterhood, race, gender and everything and anything in between. Some of our favourite writers like Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Malorie Blackman and Candice Carty-Williams are represented in this anthology which uses short stories, poetry, diaries and so much more to explore the rich history, culture and legacy of Africa on its daughters around the world.’
BBC Radio 4: Andrea Levy
Speaking on condition that the recording would only be released after her death, Andrea Levy gave an in-depth interview to oral historian Sarah O’Reilly for the British Library’s Authors’ Lives project in 2014. Now available on BBC Radio 4, hear Levy’s changing attitude towards her history and her heritage and how it is intimately bound up with her writing. With extra commentary from Gary Younge, Baroness Lola Young, Louise Doughty, Helen Edmundson, Sarah Williams, Margaret Busby, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Catherine Hall and Andrea’s husband Bill Mayblin. Listen again HERE.
Andrea Levy features in New Daughters of Africa, a major collection of women writers of African descent, celebrating their contributions to literature and international culture.
The Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award
Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award
Applications are now open for the the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award. It will pay for the recipient’s tuition fees and accommodation in central London, plus a food scholarship at International Student House. Applications must be in before 20 February 2020. A huge thank you to New Daughters of Africa contributors, SOAS and International Student House for making this possible.
Read more about the award and support with a donation HERE.
Love Stories Set in Africa That You Need to Add to Your TBR by Sarah Ladipo Manyika
Sarah Ladipo Manyika shares her five favourite books of love, set in Africa, for Frolic. New Daughters of Africa is one of those five. ‘There’s a wide range of stories in this spectacular collection from 200 women writers of African descent and many of them are love stories. From romantic love to familial love to love of nation and love of self—there are many great stories to chose from.’
Sharing Black Stories to Celebrate Black History Month
‘As a black woman trying to find my own voice, [Margaret Busby] has been endlessly interested, supportive and enthusiastic about helping a generation like me find our place and our ability to make change through writing.’
To celebrate Black History Month, people used social media to those they felt deserved recognition. Writer Afua Hirsch also got involved with the campaign, choosing to champion Margaret Busby (editor of Daughters of Africa and, more recently, New Daughters of Africa, to which Afua contributed).
Read the full article in the Metro.
Bernardine Evaristo: 'These are unprecedented times for black female writers'
An extract of Bernardine Evaristo‘s essay from Brave New Words featured in The Guardian Review this weekend, claiming main spot. The essay queries what it means to be a black writer in this current period of ‘woke’ness, mentioning The Slumflour, Black Girl Festival, Gal-Dem, Jackie Kay, Chidera Eggerue and Otegha Uwagba, amongst many others.
‘The ripple effects of 2013’s #BlackLivesMatter moment, and the movement that followed, saw renewed interest in writings about race in the US, which spilled over into the UK. We are used to the spotlight on racism being beamed across the Atlantic while little attention is paid to the perniciousness of systemic racism in Britain, about which there is much denial.’ Read the full essay in Brave New Words, available now.
Bernardine is joint-winner of the Booker Prize for her novel Girl, Woman, Other. She also features in Margaret Busby’s anthology of Black women writers, New Daughters of Africa.
Turnaround Blog - What did you read during Black History Month?
What did you read to celebrate Black History Month? Turnaround featured a fantastic selection of books for those needing inspiration, including Margaret Busby’s New Daughters of Africa. Black History Month might now be drawing to a close, but that’s no reason not to keep reading diverse and diasporic texts.
‘Following up her ground-breaking 1992 anthology that collected standout work from more than 200 women from the African Diaspora, Margaret Busby’s New Daughters of Africa seeks to showcase the work of writers of African descent for a new generation. Bringing together voices around the world both new and historical, including Roxane Gay, Zadie Smith and Diane Abbott, it’s a mammoth tome containing fiction, poetry, essays, speeches and more. Each piece of writing speaks to black women’s experiences, exploring sisterhood, tradition, romance, race and identity. For a celebration of Black history and Black excellence not just this month but all year round, pick this one up.’ Read in full HERE.
Jackie Kay selects Britain's 10 best BAME writers
The future is complex; the future is hybrid. These 10 voices make me feel hopeful about our future and give me back some of my past.’ Jackie Kay selects Britain’s 10 best BAME writers for The Guardian. The 10th spot goes to Olumide Popoola, contributor to both New Daughters of Africa and Brave New Words.
‘Olumide Popoola’s elegant and lyrical prose is instantly engaging. Her complex work captures the atmosphere and the tempo of the racial tension in King’s Cross. She is fascinated with the spaces in between culture and form, and she is adept at moving between Nigeria, Germany and the UK.’
Read the list in full HERE.
How The Stories Of Black Women In The UK Are Being Reclaimed by Paula Akpan
‘Looking to the future, Busby believes that not only is it important to have black women writing corrective histories but also to have them in positions where they’re able to publish said histories. “I’m often in spaces where people think it’s more important to be a writer over a publisher but who is going to tell these stories? Who is going to make these stories and histories a priority if we’re relying on white gatekeepers to let them through the door? We need writers, publishers, editors and more. We need to participate in every sphere and be part of the process in every sense so that we can enable other people to pass on those histories.”‘
New Daughters of Africa at Somerset House Exhibition
Somerset House invited contributors to the New Daughters of Africa anthology to their current exhibition celebrating the past 50 years of Black creativity; Get Up, Stand Up Now! The evening featured Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Yemisi Aribisala, Yaba Badoe, Jacqueline Bishop, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Anni Domingo, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Bridget Minamore and Margaret Busby in conversation and reading from their own work, as well as the work of others in the anthology.
Picture taken by Lisa Lee.
New Daughters of Africa at Open Book Festival in Cape Town
New Daughters of Africa in Poets & Writers Magazine
New Daughters of Africa at Edinburgh International Book Festival
Margaret Busby, editor of New Daughters of Africa, was invited to Edinburgh International Book Festival, alongside authors Namwali Serpell, Leila Aboulela, Candice Carty-Williams and Bernardine Evaristo, to discuss and read from the anthology. The women paid tribute to author Toni Morrison, who contributed to the first Daughters of Africa anthology, twenty five years ago. The event was part of the Telling Her Story series of events, celebrating ‘bold, defiant, revolutionary women’.
Paule Marshall and Toni Morrison tribute by Edwidge Danticat for The New Yorker
‘I love both women and was blessed to have spent some time in each of their company. Before I ever saw them in the flesh, I was in awe of their words.’
Author and contributor to New Daughters of Africa, Edwidge Danticat, writes a heartfelt tribute article for Daughters of Africa contributors and iconic black authors, Toni Morrison and Paule Marshall, for The New Yorker.
Read the full piece HERE.
New Daughters of Africa launches in Johannesburg
New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby and featuring over 200 women writers in Africa and its diaspora previously launched in the U.K. in March and at the Uganda International Writers Conference in May. This month, a particularly apt one as August in South Africa is designated as “Women’s Month,” the anthology launched in Johannesburg. James Murua shares photographs from the launch on his literature blog, which you can see HERE.
Margaret Busby on BBC Radio 4: Last Words
Margaret Busby featured on various news reports last week, celebrating revered author Toni Morrison who died on the 5th August 2019. Toni featured in Daughters of Africa, the first anthology edited by Margaret, which she followed with New Daughters of Africa this year. You can hear Margaret talking on BBC Radio 4: Last Words HERE.
Nobel-prize winning author Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88. She was the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, awarded in 1993. Margaret Busby talks to ITV news about the writer, who paved the way for women writers everywhere. Watch HERE.
Daughters of Toni: A Remembrance by Zadie Smith for Pen America
‘In 1992, my mother’s close friend, the Ghanaian born, legendary Black-British publisher Margaret Busby, published the first volume of Daughters of Africa, in which Morrison was of course included, alongside more than two hundred contributors. Its title came from the words of Maria W. Stewart, the first African-American woman to give public lectures: “O, ye daughters of Africa, awake! awake! arise! no longer sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves. Show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble and exalted faculties.” A year after that, Morrison won the Nobel Prize. A year after that, I went to university to embark on a course of English Literature which included not a single daughter of Africa nor any sons either. Change was a long time coming, but Morrison stayed out front, leading us into the future, like a pilot light.’
Read in full HERE.
SOAS Honorary Doctorate for Margaret Busby
Baroness Valerie Amos, Director of SOAS, called Margaret a pioneer and innovator who has ‘sought to bring about change in the world’.
SOAS is the leading Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East.
Best African Books of 2019, African Arguments
‘It has been a long time since a book created the kind of buzz and excitement which has surrounded New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent.’ New Daughters of Africa features on a list of The Best African Books of 2019 by Samira Sawlani for African Arguments.
Africa Writes at the British Library
The Africa Writes inaugural Lifetime Achievement in African Literature award was presented to Margaret Busby. The award was presented to Busby by writer Ade Solanke and Diane Abbott MP as part of the festival headline event celebrating the anthology New Daughters of Africa. (Image of author and New Daughters of Africa contributor Bernardine Evaristo with Margaret Busby at Africa Writes, British Library).
New Daughters of Africa at Africa Writes Bristol
Africa Writes Bristol was an amazing weekend of ideas, books, conversation and laughter. New Daughters of Africa contributors joined editor Margaret Busby to discuss the anthology. (L-R) Margaret Busby, Namwali Serpell, Leone Ross and Sharmaine Lovegrove at Africa Writes Bristol, June 2019.
Mambo Magazine: 5 Books to Read This Summer
Hay Festival 2019
Henny Beaumont, author of Hole in the Heart, was artist in residence at Hay Festival Wales 2019, capturing events and atmosphere over the final weekend. Here is her sketch of the wonderful Margaret Busby in conversation with New Daughters of Africa contributor, Bernardine Evaristo. You can see all of Henny’s sketches over on the Hay Festival Facebook page HERE.
Myriad authors awarded at the Royal Society of Literature summer party
The Royal Society of Literature elected 45 new Fellows and Honorary Fellows last week at the annual RSL summer party.
New Daughters of Africa contributors Catherine Johnson and Dorothea Smartt were elected as Fellows alongside To The Volcano author Elleke Boehmer, while New Daughters of Africa contributor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey and Brave New Words editor Susheila Nasta were elected as Honorary Fellows.
Susheila was also awarded the prestigious Benson Medal, for exceptional contributions to the advancement of literature.
Click HERE to read The Bookseller’s write up of the event.
Get Up, Stand Up Now Podcast by Somerset House
Margaret Busby takes part in the Get Up, Stand Up Now podcast by Somerset House, a ‘crafted sound odyssey over five episodes, guided by the voices of Black creative pioneers’, part of the Get Up, Stand Up Now exhibition at Somerset House.
The exhibition will run from 12th June – 15th September, you can book tickets HERE.
New Daughters at Bernie Grant Arts Centre
The event was part of BGAC’s Windrush festival and the contributors joining Margaret Busby on stage all shared a Caribbean heritage: Candice Carty-Williams, Dorothea Smartt, Zadie Smith and Andrea Stuart. The chair was contributor Adeola Solanke.
Africa Writes at the British Museum
New Daughters of Africa on PassBlue
PassBlue, an independent, women-led journalism site, shares excerpts from New Daughters of Africa and discusses the writers who were involved in the publication.
‘The writers in the anthology are often the children of African independence, and they remain placed in their land and deep generational cultures.’ Read more here.
New Daughters of Africa in The Sunday Times South Africa
New Daughters of Africa features in The Sunday Times South Africa.
‘New Daughters of Africa addresses obstacles faced by black women writers. Custom, tradition, friendships, sisterhood, romance, sexuality, intersectional feminism, the politics of gender, identity and more are explored in this collection of work from over 200 writers.’
New Daughters of Africa in the The Times Literary Supplement
‘This remarkable book constitutes a powerful affirmation of literary achievement, demonstrating that contemporary black women writers are part of a vital and extensive tradition. Just as significantly, the anthology brings these works into dialogue with one another, becoming a potent assertion of a collective identity that transcends political, religious, linguistic, regional and generational boundaries… The book’s structure also helps the reader to discern subtle shifts in the way certain themes are represented over time… New Daughters of Africa demonstrates that this work does not exist in a vacuum. Black women writers have always had something significant to say to the world and to each other.’
George Padmore Newsletter
The George Padmore Institute, based in London, is an archive, educational resource and research centre housing materials relating to the black community of Caribbean, African and Asian descent in Britain and continental Europe.
HYPEBAE 10 Books to Add to Your Summer 2019 Reading List
Ready to be overwhelmed in the very best way? All curated, edited and introduced by Margaret Busby, this collection of work across a wide-range of genres gives us a window into the extraordinary lives of excellent women.
New Daughters of Africa features in HYPEBAE’s 10 books to add to your summer 2019 reading list.
Book of the Week - Greenwich Book Festival
New Daughters of Africa is Book of the Week at Greenwich Book Festival! Catch Margaret Busby, Malorie Blackman, Bridget Minamore and Diana Evans at Greenwich Book Festival on the 15th June. More Information HERE
What happened to Britain's black avant-garde fiction writers?
‘Why did it take me so long to learn of Margaret Busby, who became the first black woman and youngest publisher in Britain, and whose recent New Daughters of Africa shows black women writers in Britain well before the arrival of the Windrush generation.’
Shola von Reinhold discusses the black writers and creatives who existed in the artistic folds of Britain but whose history wasn’t shared alongside more well-known artists because of the colour of their skin. Shola explores the role Margaret played as the first black woman publisher in Britain, whilst also highlighting other publishers and artists working to promote and celebrate black authors and artists in Britain today. Read the article in full over on the Independent website.
The Female Edit: Alt Africa Review feature New Daughters of Africa
New Daughters of Africa editor Margaret Busby and contributors Adeola Solanke, Candace Allen, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Carmen Harris, Yemisi Aribisala, Anni Domingo feature in the Spring 2019 issue of Alt A Review, which you can buy HERE.
Call Them Feminist Press - Celebrating African Women in Literature
‘In this essay, I turn my thoughts away from arresting visual art to focus on a landmark union: Margaret Busby OBE with Candida Lacey of Myriad Editions and 200+ women from Africa and her Diasporas. It is a great literary assembly put together for the purpose of reconstructing perceptions about Africa and her women; celebrating African women in literature and showcasing the dazzling range of their work…’
A fantastic essay on African Women in Literature and New Daughters of Africa by literary journalist and publicist Olatoun Gabi-Williams on the Borders Literature Online website.
A Life Transcending Boarders: Africa Writes
Africa Writes delves into the life of Margaret Busby, discussing her epic contribution to the representation of black women in publishing. ‘By vocalising the narratives of the marginalised, Margaret Busby has expanded the possibility of learning, and has ultimately opened the door for dialogue to occur.’
Read the article in full HERE.
New Daughters of Africa head to Charleston Festival
The Sussex Express features New Daughters of Africa in the run up to Charleston Festival, where Margaret Busby, Diana Evans and Bonnie Greer will be discussing the book on May 22nd at 3pm. Tickets are now available via the Charleston Festival website. Read the full article here.
Olatoun Gabi-Williams for The Guardian Arts
‘At once a war-front, a home-front and a sanctuary for our souls, the page is where Africa’s literary daughters wield our pens like swords to stake our claim to a true feminism whose power, urgency and truth can be found only at gender’s intersections: colonialism, race, culture, class, sexuality, history and nation.’ A fabulous article in The Guardian Arts by Olatoun Gabi-Williams, discussing Margaret Busby, Myriad Editions and New Daughters of Africa. Read in full here.
Of Africa and of India by Marina Salandy-Brown
‘Margaret Busby has returned with New Daughters of Africa to showcase a younger generation of writers, some of whom the literary establishment has yet to recognize adequately, but it also includes superstars like Edwidge Danticat of Haiti, Nigerian, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith (UK) and recently deceased Andrea Levy (UK). Caribbean writers are well represented by the likes of Karen Lord, Claudia Rankine, Lisa Allen Agostini, Malorie Blackman, Nalo Hopkinson, and others, some of whom will join Busby at this year’s festival.’
Marina Salandy-Brown discusses the importance of the title on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.