The Ghanaian-born editor Margaret Busby, Britain’s first Black female book publisher and at the time its youngest, has been honoured with the inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award. The recognition came on 6 July, during the just concluded 2019 Africa Writes Festival in London, where she presented and discussed the anthology New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of 20th- and 21st-Century Writing by Women of African Descent (HarperCollins, 2019), the sequel to the groundbreaking Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent from the Ancient Egyptian to the Present (Ballantine Books, 1992). New Daughters of Africa, which “charts a contemporary literary canon from 1900 and captures their [female writers of African descent’s] continuing literary contribution as never before,” features 200 contributors including Aminatta Forna, Bernadine Evaristo, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Imbolo Mbue, Warsan Shire, Zadie Smith, Sefi Atta, Sisonke Msimang, Ayesha Harruna Attah, Diana Evans, Andrea Levy, Yewande Omotoso, Nawal El Saadawi, and Panashe Chigumadzi.
Hailed as the “Doyenne of Black British Publishing” by Blackhistorymonth.org.uk, Busby, a member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), was born in 1944, in Accra, “to parents with roots in Barbados, Trinidad and Dominican Republic.” Her decision to co-found the publishing press Allison & Busby, with Clive Allison, in 1967, made her Britain’s youngest and first Black woman book publisher. In her 20 years as Allison & Busby’s editorial director, she oversaw the publication of such significant books as Buchi Emecheta’s Second-Class Citizen, George Lamming’s The Pleasures of Exile, Sam Greenlee’s The Spook Who Sat by the Door, and C.L.R. James’ The Black Jacobins. Her press further brought to public attention the work of such names as Rosa Guy, Miyamoto Musashi, Val Wilmer, Michele Roberts, and Andrew Salkey.
Busby, who recently wrote about the impact of the Daughters of Africa series, has since served as a judge for the Wole Soyinka Prize, the Commonwealth Book Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Caine Prize, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. She is the Prize Ambassador of the SI Leeds Literary Prize and a patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
We’re honoured to have Diane Abbott .@HackneyAbbott at #AfricaWrites2019 who is presenting Margaret Busby OBE with the inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement in African Literature. #NewDaughtersofAfrica
— Africa Writes (@AfricaWritesUK) July 6, 2019
— Royal Society of Literature (@RSLiterature) July 6, 2019
Read her! Honor her! Celebrate her! Margaret Busby has just won the inaugural Lifetime Achievement award for Literature. Glad to have met this incredible brave woman (No one braver than Margret as MP @HackneyAbbott said) and witnessed a very moving ceremony at #AfricaWrites2019 pic.twitter.com/vTJWnMRIXf
— InterKontinental (@iKontinental) July 6, 2019
— Nadifa Mohamed (@thesailorsgirl) July 6, 2019
— Ranka Primorac (@RankaPrimorac) July 6, 2019
Lovely to be @britishlibrary for New Daughters of Africa talk. Wonderful to see Margaret Busby awarded the inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award. #AfricaWrites2019 👏👏
We have copies of the anthology available for loan. #IslingtonReads pic.twitter.com/GZ1LUleFQ1
— Islington Libraries (@Islingtonlibs) July 6, 2019
Loved chairing the New Daughters of Africa panel for @RSLiterature & @AfricaWritesUK with ed. #MargaretBusby & @thesailorsgirl @ayobamiadebayo @namwalien & Margaret deserverdly received the Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature from Diane Abbott @HackneyAbbott pic.twitter.com/7TQbHOrxLO
— Bernardine Evaristo (@BernardineEvari) July 8, 2019
What a wonderful moment recognising the incredible, pioneering work of Margaret Busby pic.twitter.com/k1WBHPelz3
— Nicola Abram (@nicola_abram) July 6, 2019
This award is a much-needed one.
Brittle Paper congratulates Margaret Busby.