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
Africa Writes Newsletter: New Daughters of Africa
Africa Writes featured an exclusive discount for the paperback of New Daughters of Africa in their latest newsletter. Are you subscribed? Head over to their blog to catch exclusive offers and content.
Literandra interview with Dr Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi
“I, as an African woman, navigate life, work, family, and daily living in America even as my heart continues to reach out, yearning for the smells, tastes, sounds, colours of Africa.” Dr Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi
A More Perfect Union and New Daughters of Africa in Stylist
‘A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf (out 15 October, £12.99, Myriad Editions) is an epic love story between an Irish immigrant and a Black slave that you should pre-order now. There’s also the paperback release of New Daughters Of Africa (£14.99, Myriad Editions, out now) edited by Margaret Busby, which embraces every genre you can think of: fiction, poetry, letters, drama and journalism from such jaw-dropping names as Roxane Gay, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Yrsa Daley-Ward.’
Jesmyn Ward on losing her partner to COVID-19
‘My Beloved died in January. He was a foot taller than me and had large, beautiful dark eyes and dexterous, kind hands. He fixed me breakfast and pots of loose-leaf tea every morning. He cried at both of our children’s births, silently, tears glazing his face. Before I drove our children to school in the pale dawn light, he would put both hands on the top of his head and dance in the driveway to make the kids laugh. He was funny, quick-witted, and could inspire the kind of laughter that cramped my whole torso. Last fall, he decided it would be best for him and our family if he went back to school. His primary job in our household was to shore us up, to take care of the children, to be a househusband. He traveled with me often on business trips, carried our children in the back of lecture halls, watchful and quietly proud as I spoke to audiences, as I met readers and shook hands and signed books. He indulged my penchant for Christmas movies, for meandering trips through museums, even though he would have much preferred to be in a stadium somewhere, watching football. One of my favorite places in the world was beside him, under his warm arm, the color of deep, dark river water.’
Acclaimed novelist Jesmyn Ward lost her beloved husband—the father of her children—as COVID-19 swept across the country. She writes through their story, and her grief for Vanity Fair.
Love Reading: Must Read Novels by Black Writers
‘From thought-provoking literary fiction to coming-of-age life-changers that speak to all ages, our ever-growing collection of outstanding novels by black writers presents a richness of reading experiences. ‘
See the list in full HERE.
Special Announcement: Exclusive Pre-Publication Copies of New Daughters
The copies will be allocated on a first come first serve basis, so order your copy before they run out! Available HERE.
Literandra short story review: ‘A Very Young Judge’ by Leila Aboulela
‘Growing up, most of us probably had that one friend, who we were very fond of but who somehow, wittingly or not, made us feel at once inadequate about ourselves and grateful to be around them. That kind of friendship is what Leila Aboulela’s short story ‘A Very Young Judge’ is about.
The story explores the friendship between the first person narrator and her fashionable, fascinating, and ferocious friend Leena. It examines the role and nature of friendships between women and girls. ‘A Very Young Judge’ shows that women and girls can be each other’s most fierce judges and / or supporters.
Alongside this, the story also shines a light on the importance of self-determination, discernment, and critical examination of one’s friends and circle. It’s easy to get absorbed by a group of friends and forget to remain critical of one’s own and their morals alike. ‘A Very Young Judge’ also shows how quickly the most popular and revered girl in school (or anywhere else, for that matter) can morph into a deeply problematic, judgmental, and exclusionary person. It alludes to the fact that ‘hero-worship’ and the idolisation of any human being is a dangerous and slippery slope, because we are all fallible and susceptible to change.
Read the full review HERE.
Q&A: Margaret Busby with Africa in Words
Africa in Words: ‘So, I think that’s why this anthology is so important, because it is providing a space and providing that platform for so many people.’
Margaret Busby: ‘It’s really just showing that there is more that you could be enjoying, that you could be learning from, that you could be reading. There are things that could open your mind, that could enlighten you that you have to seek out for yourself because it is not being offered within your formal curriculum.’
Margaret Busby: What it takes to be the first Black Woman Publisher in the UK
MB: ‘Often, I’m at events or on panels and I ask the audience how many people want to be a writer, and everybody’s hands go up. And then you ask who wants to be a publisher and nobody’s hand goes up. But you can do both; it’s not as if you have to choose. You just have to be involved; otherwise they get to decide that you can come in the door. We have to be there at every level, whether it’s on the newspapers, etc. Otherwise, who chooses to review your show or my book? Who are the gatekeepers? We need to be part of it, so that there can be other perspectives. That way, everybody ends up benefitting. You want a richer literature, a richer artistic community. You don’t want everything to be narrowed down to just a small voice or coterie of people that are all thinking the same way. It would be very strange if you walked down the street and everybody looked exactly the same, spoke the same, or wore the same clothes. How boring would that be? But sometimes you feel that’s how it is. I can still go to a publishing party where I’m the only black person. And it’s not as if they even notice, because that’s the way it is for them – that’s the norm.’
Read this three-part interview with Margaret Busby by Satch Hoyt, as they discuss music, publishing and Black writing for Afro-Sonic Mapping.
Literandra short story review: ‘This Is Not Au Revoir’ by Zukiswa Wanner
‘Zukiswa Wanner’s short story, ‘This Is Not Au Revoir‘ is a feminist story that packs a punch. Set in Johannesburg, it follows the life and times of Naledi, a woman who decides that, in spite of everything she has been through, enough is enough. We follow her journey to self-determination through heartbreaks, mental health issues, and societal constraints.
‘While the story reads like an empowering, snappy, almost coming-of-age-story, it also looks at deeply complex societal and cultural issues. Over the course of the story, we see as Naledi evolves from the woman who unwittingly accepts emotional mistreatment from her lovers, to the one who decides to put herself first.’
Thank you to Literandra for reviewing Zukiswa Wanner’s short story from New Daughters of Africa. Literandra will be featuring the anthology across their platforms over August and September, to mark the publication of the paperback.
Read the full review HERE.
Afrolit Sans Frontières: Online African Literary Festival
Afrolit Sans Frontières is a virtual literary festival for writers of African origin, founded by author and publisher Zukiswa Wanner as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdowns. There have been four editions running every month since they began in March. Season five is up next and will include New Daughters of Africa contributors Sisonke Msimang and Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, as well as editor Margaret Busby.
Idza Luhymyo first recipient of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award
We’re overjoyed to announce that Idza Luhumyo is the first recipient of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award. Luhumyo will start at SOAS University of London this Autumn and we very much look forward to celebrating with her.
Her writing has previously been published by Popula, Jalada Africa, The Writivism Anthology, Baphash Literary & Arts Quarterly, MaThoko’s Books, Gordon Square Review, Amsterdam’s ZAM Magazine, Short Story Day Africa, and The New Internationalist. Her work has been shortlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize, the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, and the Gerald Kraak Award.
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.’