Margaret Busby was revealed to be the recipient of the London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award today, May 20, 2021.
The London Book Fair, first hosted in 1971, is one of the biggest such events in world. Every year since 2004, the fair hands out the Lifetime Achievement Award which recognises an individual who has made a truly significant mark in the sphere of global publishing. It is open to publishers, agents, editors, scouts and anyone else involved in international publishing from any country in the world. Some of the winners have been Nigel Newton, Dorotea Bromberg, Sonny Mehta, and Luiz Schwarcz.
The winner of this year’s honours is Margaret Busby is a major cultural figure in Britain and around the world. 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. At Allison & Busby, she 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, she 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, judged the Booker Prize among others, and served on the boards of such organisations as the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nubian Jak Community Trust and the Africa Centre in London.
Commenting on the award, 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 [Mehta], Peter [Mayer] and Deborah [Rogers]—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.”