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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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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction 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 Curator at 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 work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. 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 has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. 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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