British writer Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of eight books and numerous other published and produced works that span the genres of novels, poetry, verse fiction, short fiction, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. Her writing and projects are based around her interest in the African diaspora. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London.
Her verse novel The Emperor’s Babe was adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2013 and her novella Hello Mum was adapted as a BBC Radio 4 play in 2012. In 2015 she wrote and presented a two-part BBC Radio 4 documentary called Fiery Inspiration: Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement.
She guest-edited the UK Sunday Times Style magazine in July 2020 with a black women & womxn take-over, and she has edited several other publications. Her literary criticism and other writing has appeared in many national newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Observer, Times, Independent, New Statesman, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Conde Nast Traveller. She has also judged many literary awards and is on the Editorial Board of the African Poetry Book Fund (USA) for all its publications and prizes.
She has received several honours and awards. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2004, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2006, a Fellow of the English Association in 2017 and a Fellow of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in 2018. She received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2009. She joined the governing Council of the Royal Society of Literature in 2016 and became Vice Chair in 2017.
Since 1996 she has accepted many invitations to undertake international visits as a writer. She gives readings, talks, delivers keynotes, chairs panels and delivers creative writing activities and courses. In 2019 she is the inaugural Woolwich Laureate, appointed by the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival. She is reconnecting to the home town she left at eighteen and writing about it.
The first monograph on her work, Fiction Unbound by Sebnem Toplu, was published in August 2011 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. A second monograph by Ester Gendusa was published in Italy in 2015. Her books have been translated into Czech, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian & Mandarin. Since winning the Booker a further 28 translation deals have been agreed.
A staunch and longstanding activist and advocate for the inclusion of artists and writers of colour, Bernardine has initiated several successful schemes to ensure increased representation in the creative industries.
Bernardine Evaristo was born the fourth of eight children, in Woolwich, south east London, to an English mother (of English, Irish and German heritage) and a Nigerian father (of Nigerian and Brazilian heritage). Her father was a welder and local Labour councillor; her mother was a schoolteacher. She was educated at Eltham Hill Girls’ Grammar School, the Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama, and Goldsmiths, University of London, where she earned her PhD (Creative Writing). She spent her teenage years at Greenwich Young People’s Theatre, which was where she first became involved in the arts.
She lives in London with her husband.