The London Book Fair will present the LBF Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 to Margaret Busby, co-founder of the publishing company Allison & Busby. The Lifetime Achievement Award committee selected Margaret Busby from a shortlist of leading international publishing figures.
Margaret Busby OBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) was born in Ghana and educated in the UK. She graduated from Bedford College, London University, before becoming Britain’s youngest and first Black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s who published notable authors including Buchi Emecheta, Nuruddin Farah, Rosa Guy, C. L. R. James, Michael Moorcock and Jill Murphy.
A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, Busby has written drama for BBC radio and the stage, with radio abridgements and dramatisations 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 and Ben Okri. She is a Booker Prize judge and has served on numerous boards such as the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nubian Jak Community Trust and the Africa Centre in London.
She is the publisher and editor of the much acclaimed volumes Daughters of Africa Anthologies and New Daughters of Africa, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of several honorary doctorates and awards, including the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award. She has also received the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal and the Royal African Society’s inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award.
Margaret Busby said: “It was such a pleasure to receive this news, the import of which is only gradually sinking in. To have been nominated and then chosen for such a prestigious award is an immense honour and very humbling. What a roll-call of predecessors! Sad to realise that some of those I interacted with over the decades – such as Sonny, Peter and Deborah – are no longer with us, but inspiring to know that so many others are still fighting the good fight. I am so grateful to remain connected to the industry’s journey and I’d like to thank LBF for this special honour.
“Thank you to all my colleagues and friends, and those who have walked with me over the decades on paths less trodden, helping to forge exciting international links and collaborations between authors, editors and booksellers.Throughout my career, I have published and worked with many incredibly fine writers, and I have been fortunate to be part of their ongoing success My life in publishing was conceived while I was at university, not yet of age, and since that predates the venerable London Book Fair I can bear witness to how far that has come. Thank you, LBF, for all that you do, and thank you again for this amazing award.”
The LBF Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing will be presented to Margaret Busby by authors Zadie Smith and Bernardine Evaristo on Friday 2nd July.