Shining a light on black female writers

The author, Bernardine Evaristo, and the publisher, Margaret Busby, spoke of their latest books and highlighted the significance of promoting black female literature.

Evaristo, who ran a theatre company during the 1980s, explained the difficulty that black female writers experienced in the creative industries.

She said, “We were so marginalised; we were so outside of the mainstream that we only got support off each other. The mainstream press wasn’t interested in our work; the publishers weren’t interested in our work.”

Having recently published her eighth novel, Girl, Woman, Other, Evaristo spoke of the disregard shown by the industry to black female writers.

She continued, “We were second-generation, most of us were born in Britain, raised in Britain, and we were told that we didn’t belong. ‘You don’t belong here, and you’re not important, and we’re not interested in you’.”

Margaret Busby has released her latest anthology New Daughters of Africa which documents the work of more than 200 women writers, 25 years after the release of her hugely influential anthology Daughters of Africa, and Evaristo spoke of the book’s importance.

She said, “Margaret’s anthology was the first book that kind of said, ‘We’re here, and we’re a formidable presence as writers globally, and we should be taken seriously’. And the doors began to open for black British writers.”

Busby explained she intended to raise the profile of black female writers of African descent.

She said, “I was trying to shine a light on 200 people who deserved our attention.”

Pictured: Margaret Busby

If you’re interested in Literature, also see Martin Puchner discuss the historical importance of literature at 4 pm, 2 June. If you like watching Hay Festival events digitally, please sign up to the Hay Player for more from the world’s greatest thinkers.

Photo by Morgan Williams