Bernardine Evaristo

(* 1959)

Bernardine EvaristoBiographical Sketch

Bernardine Anne Mobolaji Evaristo, OBE FRSL FRSA (born London, UK, May 28, 1959), is a British author and academic. Her eighth book, the novel, Girl, Woman, Other, won the Booker Prize in 2019, making her the first black woman and the first black British person to win it. In 2020 she won the British Book Awards: Fiction Book of the Year and Author of the Year, as well as the Indie Book Award for Fiction as well as many other awards. The novel was one of Barack Obama’s 19 Favourite Books of 2019 and Roxane Gay’s Favourite Book of 2019. In June 2020 she became the first woman of colour and the first black British writer to get to number 1 in the UK paperback fiction charts, where she held the top spot for five weeks. There are over 50 foreign language translations of Evaristo’s books in process. Evaristo’s writing also includes short fiction, drama, poetry, essays, literary criticism, and projects for stage and radio. Two of her books, The Emperor’s Babe (2001) and Hello Mum (2010), have been adapted into BBC Radio 4 dramas. Her ninth book, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up is published by Penguin UK October 2021 and Grove Atlantic USA (2022).

Evaristo is a longstanding advocate for the inclusion of writers and artists of colour, setting up many successful projects. She founded the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2012–present) and initiated The Complete Works poetry mentoring scheme (2007–2017). She co-founded Spread the Word writer development agency (1995–present) and Britain’s first black women’s theatre company (1982–1988), Theatre of Black Women. She organised Britain’s first major black theatre conference, Future Histories, for the Black Theatre Forum, (1995) at the Royal Festival Hall, and Britain’s first major conference on black British writing, Tracing Paper (1997) at the Museum of London. In October 2020 it was announced that she is curating a new book series with Hamish Hamilton at Penguin Random House publishers, “Black Britain: Writing Back”, which involves bringing back into print and circulation books from the past. The first six books, novels, were published in February 2021, including Minty Alley (1936) by C. L. R. James and The Dancing Face (1997) by Mike Phillips.

Evaristo is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, one of fewer than 30 black female professors in the UK out of around 20,000 professors overall. She was Vice-Chair of the Royal Society of Literature until 2020, when she became a lifetime Vice President. She is a lifetime Honorary Fellow of St Anne’s College, University of Oxford and International Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2021 she succeeded Sir Richard Eyre as President of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, her alma mater and one of Britain’s major drama schools. She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s 2009 Birthday Honours, and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honours, both for services to literature.

Read more about Bernardine Evaristo on Wikipedia.


Major Awards and Honors

Order of the British Empire
  • 2009: Member
  • 2020: Officer
Royal Society of Literature
  • 2004: Fellow
  • 2020: Lifetime Vice President
Royal Society of Arts
  • 2006: Fellow
National Endowment of Science, Technology & The Arts (UK)
  • 2003: NESTA Fellowship Award
Arts Council England
  • 2000: Writer’s Award – “The Emperor’s Babe”
Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance
  • 2018: Fellow
  • 2021: President
Booker Prize (UK)
  • 2019: Best Novel – “Girl, Woman, Other”
    – Jointly with Margaret Atwood (“The Testaments”).
British Book Awards
  • 2020: Author of the Year
  • 2020: Fiction Book of the Year – “Girl, Woman, Other”
Orange Prize (UK)
  • 2009: Youth Panel Award – “Blonde Roots”
The Bookseller (UK)
  • 2021: Inclusion in 150 power list
  • 2020: Inclusion in 150 power list
Indie Book Awards (UK)
  • 2020: Fiction – “Girl, Woman, Other”
Poetry Book Society
  • 2010: Commendation – “Ten”
    – Co-edited with Daljit Nagra.
Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy (EMMA) (UK)
  • 1999: EMMA Best Book Award – “Lara”
Fiction Uncovered (UK)
  • 2014: Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize – “Mr Loverman”
Big Red Read Award (UK)
  • 2009: Overall Winner – “Blonde Roots”
  • 2009: Fiction Award – “Blonde Roots”
Black Powerlist (UK)
  • 2021: Top 100
GG2 Leadership Awards (UK)
  • 2021: Woman of the Year Award
The Times (UK)
  • 2010: Inclusion in 100 Best Books of the Decade – “The Emperor’s Babe”
Financial Times (UK)
  • 2019: Inclusion in list of 14 women game changers
100 Great Black Britons Poll
  • 2020: Voted into Top 100
St Anne’s College, University of Oxford (UK)
  • 2020: Lifetime Honorary Fellow
University of East Anglia
  • 2002: UEA Writing Fellow
Brunel University London (UK)
  • 2014: The Public Orator
  • 2015: CBASS Award for Excellence
  • 2017: Teach Brunel Award
  • 2020: Vice Chancellor’s Award for Staff
English Association (UK)
  • 2017: Honorary Fellow
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)
  • 2020: Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage
American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • 2021: Honorary International Fellow
Georgetown University (USA)
  • 2006: British Council Fellow
Dartmouth College, USA
  • 2015: Montgomery Fellow
Triangle Publishing Awards (USA)
  • 2015: Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction
Vanity Fair Magazine (USA)
  • 2021: Challenger Award
The Vogue Magazine (USA)
  • 2020: The Vogue 25 for 2020
    – list of Britain’s 25 most influential women
Glamour Magazine (USA)
  • 2021: Woman of the Year, Gamechanging Author Award
Reading Women (USA)
  • 2020: Reading Women Award
Prix Millepage (France)
  • 2020: “Girl, Woman, Other”
Elle Magazine (France / International)
  • 2020: Elle 50
    – List of Britain’s gamechangers.



Novels and Novellas
  • Island of Abraham (1994)
  • Lara (1997)
    – Expanded edition 2009.
  • The Emperor’s Babe ( 2001)
  • Soul Tourists (2005)
  • Blonde Roots (2009)
  • Hello Mum (2010)
  • Mr Loverman (2014)
  • Girl, Woman, Other (2019)
Short Stories
  • Letters from London (1994)
    – Published in Miscegenation Blues: voices of mixed-race women, edited by Carol Camper.
  • On Top of the World (2005)
    – BBC Radio 4.
  • (2006)
    – Published in The Guardian’s annual short story supplement.
  • A Matter of Timing (2008)
    – Published in The Guardian.
  • On Top of the World (2010)
    – Published in The Mechanics Institute Review, Issue 7 (Birkbeck, University of London).
  • I think I’m Going Slightly Mad (2011)
    – Published in One for the Trouble, The Book Slam Annual, edited by Patrick Neate (Book Slam Productions).
  • Our Billy (or should it be Betty?) (2014)
    – Published in Letter to an Unknown Soldier, 14–18 NOW UK WW1 Centenary Art Commissions.
  • Yoruba Man Walking (2015)
    – Published in Closure: a new anthology of contemporary black British fiction, edited by Jacob Ross.
  • The Human World (2016)
    – Published in How Much the Heart Can Hold, edited by Emma Herdman.
  • The White Man’s Liberation Front (2020)
    – Published in New Statesman.
  • Star of the Season (2020)
    – Published in British Vogue.
  • Moving Through (1982)
    – Choral dramatic poem, Talking Black Festival, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs.
  • Tiger Teeth Clenched Not to Bite (1982)
    – Poetic monologue. Theatre of Black Women, the Melkweg, Amsterdam.
  • Silhouette (1983)
    – Experimental verse drama. Theatre of Black Women tour. Co-writer: Patricia St. Hilaire.
  • Pyeyucca (1984)
    – Experimental verse drama. Theatre of Black Women tour. Additional material: Patricia St. Hilaire.
  • Medea – Mapping the Edge (2002)
    – Verse drama. Wilson Wilson Company at Sheffield Crucible Theatre and BBC Radio Drama.
  • Madame Bitterfly and the Stockwell Diva (2003)
    – Verse drama. The Friday Play, BBC Radio 4 Starring Rudolph Walker, Clare Perkins, Dona Croll.
  • First, Do No Harm (2020)
    – Poetic monologue, Old Vic Theatre online, directed by Adrian Lester, produced by Lolita Chakrabarti, and starring Sharon D. Clarke.
  • Black Theatre (1992)
    – Published in Artrage.
  • Black Women in Theatre (1993)
    – Published in Six Plays by Black and Asian Women Writers, edited by Kadjia George (Aurora Metro Press)
  • Going it Alone (1996)
    – On one-person shows in black British theatre; published in Artrage.
  • On Staying Power (1998)
    – By Peter Fryer for BBC Windrush Education.
  • Roaring Zora (2001)
    – On the life and writing of Zora Neale Hurston; published in Marie Claire.
  • False Memory Syndrome: Writing Black in Britain (2005)
    – Published in Writing Worlds (New Writing Partnership / University of East Anglia).
  • The Road Less Travelled (2005)
    – Published in Necessary Journeys, edited by Melanie Keen and Eileen Daley.
  • Origins (2005)
    – Published in Crossing Borders (British Council online).
  • An Introduction to Contemporary British Poetry (2005)
    – Published in British Council Literature Magazine.
  • Writing the Past: Traditions, Inheritances, Discoveries (2007)
    – Published in Writing Worlds 1: The Norwich Exchanges (University of East Anglia).
  • CSI Europe: African Trace Elements. Fragments. Reconstruction. Case Histories. Motive. Personal (2008)
    – Published in Wasafiri.
  • My Father’s House (2009)
    – Autobiographical essay; published in Five Dials.
  • The Month of September (2010)
    – On writing and process; published in Volume 100:4, Winter 2010 Poetry Review.
  • Introduction to Ten poetry anthology, Why This, Why Now? (2010)
    – On the need for The Complete Works initiative to diversify British poetry publications.
  • Introduction to Wasafiri Black Britain: Beyond Definition, The Illusion of Inclusion (2010)
    – Published in Issue 64, Winter 2010.
  • Myth, Motivation, Magic & Mechanics (2011)
    – Published in Body of Work: 40 Years of Creative Writing at UEA (University of East Anglia), edited by Giles Foden.
  • The Book that Changed Me Series: Essay on For colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange (2013)
    – BBC Radio 3.
  • The Privilege of Being a Mixed Race Woman (2016)
    – Published in Tangled Roots: Real Life Stories from Mixed Race Britain, Anthology Number 2, edited by Katy Massey.
  • What a Time to be a (Black) (British) (Womxn) Writer (2019)
    – Published in Brave New Words, edited by Susheila Nasta.
  • Foreword to Bedside Guardian (2020)
    – Annual Guardian anthology.
  • Introduction to Loud Black Girls (2020)
    Edited by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené.
  • Literature Can Foster Our Shared Humanity (2020)
    – Published in British Vogue, 6 June 2020.
  • The Longform Patriarchs and their Accomplices (2020)
    – Published in New Statesman.
  • On Mrs Dalloway (2020)
    – BBC Radio 4.
  • Claiming Whiteness (2020)
    – Published in The House magazine (Houses of Parliament).
  • Spiritual Pick and Mix (2020)
    – For A Point of View, BBC Radio 4.
  • Loving the Body Fat-tastic (2020)
    – For A Point of View, BBC Radio 4.
  • The Pro-Mask Movement (2020)
    – For A Point of View, BBC Radio 4.
  • Gender in the Blender (2020)
    – For A Point of View, BBC Radio 4.
  • Why Black Lives Matter (2020)
    – For A Point of View, BBC Radio 4.
  • Theatre of Black Women: A Personal Account (2020)
    – Published in The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Women on Stage; edited by Jan Sewell and Clare Smout.
  • Foreword: Re:Thinking: ‘Diversity’ (2020)
    – In Publishing, by Dr Anamik Saha and Dr Sandra van Lente.
  • Introduction to Beloved by Toni Morrison (2021)
  • Introduction to for Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange (2021)
  • Introduction to Black Teacher by Beryl Gilroy (2021)
  • Introduction to Bernard and the Cloth Monkey by Judith Bryan (1998)
    – ‘Black Britain: Writing Back’ series (2021)
  • Introduction to Minty Alley by C.L.R. James (1936)
    – Black Britain: Writing Back series (2021).
  • Introduction to Incomparable World by S.I. Martin (1996)
    – Black Britain: Writing Back series (2021).
  • Introduction to The Dancing Face by Mike Phillips (1997)
    – Black Britain: Writing Back series (2021).
  • Introduction to The Fat Lady Sings by Jacqueline Roy (2000)
    – Black Britain: Writing Back series (2021).
  • Introduction to Without Prejudice by Nicola Williams (1997)
    – Black Britain: Writing Back series (2021).
  • Editor, Black Women Talk Poetry anthology (1987)
    – With Da Choong, Olivette Cole-Wilson, and Gabriela Pearse.
  • Editor, FrontSeat quarterly inter-cultural performance magazine (Black Theatre Forum) (1996 – 1997)
    Associate Editor, Wasafiri international literature journal (Queen Mary University London and Open University) (1998 – 2008)
  • Editor, NW15: New Writing Anthology, 15th annual edition (British Council and Granta) (2007)
    – With Maggie Gee.
  • Guest Editor, Wasafiri magazine of international literature, Black Britain: Beyond Definition, Special Winter Issue (2010)
    – With Karen McCarthy Woolf.
  • Editor, Ten: New Poets poetry anthology, introducing ten new poets from The Complete Works project (2010)
    – With Daljit Nagra.
  • Guest Editor, Poetry Review, Offending Frequencies for The Poetry Society of Great Britain, Special Centenary Winter Issue, Volume 102.4 (2012)
  • Guest Editor, Mslexia quarterly magazine of creative writing, Issue Number 63 (2014)
  • Editorial Selector, Let’s Tell This Story Properly (2014)
    – Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize anthology; edited by Ellah Allfrey.
  • Guest Editor, The Sunday Times Style magazine (2020)
  • Originator and supervising editor of annual student anthologies at Brunel University London: The Voices Inside Our Heads, The Psyche Supermarket, The Imagination Project, It’s Complicated, Totem, Pendulum and Letter to My Younger Self 2019, Kintsugi (2014 – 2020)
  • Editorial Board, the African Poetry Book Fund, with Prairie Schooner poetry magazine at the University of Nebraska (2014 – present)


A Selection of Quotes

Girl, Woman, Other

“Be a person with knowledge not just opinions.”

“Privilege is about context and circumstance.”

“Life is an adventure to be embraced with an open mind and loving heart.”

“Let us wonder at how X was just a rare letter until algebra came along and made it something special that can be unravelled to reveal inner value.”

“People have to share everything they do these days, from meals, to nights out, to selfies of themselves half naked in a mirror
The borders between public and private are dissolving.”

“The Barbies with their stick legs and rocket breasts were another problem Megan had to endure. She was supposed to spend hours dressing up or playing house with them, including the darker ones she was supposed to find more relatable. In a fit she’d once tried to commit Barbicide, defaced them with colored marker pens, chopped off hair, extracted eyes with scissors and de-limbed a few … The Barbie invasion proliferated on birthdays and at Christmas, relatives talked about incredible collection, as if she’d actually chosen to have them in her life.”

“There was no such thing as objective truth and if you think something’s good because it speaks to you it is.”

“Very small children don’t care about skin colour, Rachel, until they’re brainwashed by their parents.”

“Why should he carry the burden of representation when it will only hold him back?
White people are only required to represent themselves, not an entire race.”

“… as if she was the kind of woman who’d amputate her aspirations to become one of his decorative appendages …”

“Life is about taking risks, not about burying your head in the sand.”

“We should celebrate that many more women are reconfiguring feminism and that grassroots activism is spreading like wildfire and millions of women are waking up to the possibility of taking ownership of our world as fully-entitled human beings
How can we argue with that?”

“It took her years to realise she wasn’t being slow and stupid, she leaned the hard way to shoehorn herself into debates, to force them to explain exactly what the hell they were talking about, to hold them to account.”

“She realized that knowing someone comes from money isn’t the same as witnessing the extent of it in close proximity.”

“Megan should have been grateful and accepted her cute status, what girl doesn’t want to be told how lovely she is, how special? except it felt wrong, even at a young age, something in her realized that her prettiness was supposed to make her compliant, and when she wasn’t, when she rebelled, she was letting down all those invested in her being adorable.”

“I’m not a victim, don’t ever treat me like a victim, my mother didn’t raise me to be a victim.”

“Who needs enemies when your life partner undermines you on a regular basis?”

Mr Loverman

“I am an individual, specific, not generic.”

“He turns to me, serious, grabs my wrist tight.
“”What am I now? A Catholic priest you got to confess all of your sins to? If you start down that road, I got to reciprocate, and I ain’t so sure you can handle that. You want to know where this conversation will lead, my friend? A dead end, that’s where.
‘Listen to me good, Barry. I have known you since 1947 when we was nippers. That’s sixty-four years, yuh hear? You and me has finally got a future to look forward to together, so let we not go digging up our past misdemeanors, right? Just sit back comfy and easy and listen to the one and only Miss Shirley Bassey and let we just enjoy the vibes, man, enjoy the vibes.'”

Find more quotes by Bernardine Evaristo on Wikiquote and Goodreads.