Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo has been appointed the 19th president of the Royal Society of Literature, a distinguished UK-based charity formed for the advancement of literature. She is the second woman in the organization’s 200-year history, and the first person of colour to hold this position.
Evaristo, who was appointed Vice President last year, will take over from current president Dame Marina Sarah Warner and at the end of her tenure later this year. She will hold the position for four-years.
Evaristo said she was “deeply honored” for the new appointment, commending the bold approach of the organization towards embracing a more representative and egalitarian culture for literature. Prior to this, she has held impressive roles at the organization, including chairing an election panel appointing 60 new fellows -all from underrepresented communities- into the organization, a sweeping initiative undertaken by the society last year to foster inclusion. She was equally “a panelist on the 40 under 40 Fellowship initiative and helped launched the Sky Arts RSL Writers Awards which provides mentoring for emerging writers of colour.”
The chair of the Royal Society of Literature Daljit Nagra expressed delight at the appointment, describing Evaristo as a “seminal writer” and a “trailblazer.”
Evaristo shot to mainstream limelight with the publication of her eighth novel Girl, Woman, Other, which won the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction. She was the first Black woman to top the UK paperback chart and was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was also appointed President of the Rose Bruford College and and was made an honorary fellow at St Anne’s College, Oxford.
Congratulations to Bernardine Evaristo!