Margaret Busby

President of English Pen

Margaret Busby CBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a much respected cultural figure internationally. Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, she graduated from Bedford College, London University, before becoming Britain’s then youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. At A&B, she published notable authors including Buchi Emecheta, Nuruddin Farah, Rosa Guy, C. L. R. James, Geoffrey Grigson, Michael Moorcock, Jill Murphy, Adrian Mitchell, Sam Greenlee, Roy Heath, George Lamming, Andrew Salkey, Val Wilmer, Ishmael Reed and John Edgar Wideman.

An editor, writer, broadcaster and literary critic, she has written drama for BBC radio and the stage, with radio abridgements and dramatizations encompassing work by Henry Louis Gates, Timothy Mo, Walter Mosley, Jean Rhys, Sam Selvon and Wole Soyinka. She has interviewed high-profile writers including Toni Morrison, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Nawal El Saadawi, and Ben Okri, judged the Booker among many prizes, and served on the boards of such organisations as the Arica Centre. Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Nubian Jak Community Trust, Tomorrow’s Warriors, and the SI Leeds Literary Prize.

She compiled the pioneering Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writing by Women of African Descent (1992) and in 2019 New Daughters of Africa (which initiated a scholarship for African women at SOAS University of London).

A long-time campaigner for diversity in publishing, she is the current president of English Pen, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of several honorary doctorates, in addition to honours including the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal, the Royal African Society’s inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award.and the London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award.