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Bibi Bakare-Yusuf. Image from OkayAfrica.

Caine Prize chair Ellah Wakatama Allfrey and Cassava Republic Press co-founder Bibi Bakare-Yusuf have been inducted into the UK’s Royal Society of Literature (RSL) as Honorary Fellows, a category for “those who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of literature as publishers, agents, booksellers or producers, or who have rendered special service to the Society.” A total of 45 new Fellows and Honourary Fellows joined the Society in a ceremony yesterday evening.

Founded in 1820 as “a society designed to ‘reward literary merit and excite literary talent,’” members of the 199-year-old organisation have included Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, W.B. Yeats, Bernard Shaw, Ruyard Kipling, and T.S. Eliot. Boasting around 600 Fellows—novelists, short-story writers, poets, playwrights, biographers, historians, travel writers, literary critics, scriptwriters—the RSL holds public events, organises masterclasses, awards prizes, and sends writers into schools.

Ellah Allfrey, OBE. Photographed by Charlie Hopkinson at Rye Books, London.

As is the RSL’s tradition, the new Fellows and Honourary Fellows signed the original founding register containing the British monarch George IV’s coat of arms and signature—signed it with either T.S. Eliot’s fountain pen or a pen given to Lord Byron by one of his mistresses.

Last year, eight African writers joined the Society: Warsan Shire, Inua Ellams, Sabrina Mahfouz, Nadifa Mohamed, Irenosen Okojie, Chibundu Onuzo, Bola Agbaje, Mojisola Adebayo, and Kwame Dawes.

The Royal Society of Literature shared the news on Twitter.

Brittle Paper congratulates Bibi Bakare-Yusuf and Ellah Wakatama Allfrey.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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