SOAS University of London

About SOAS

Margaret Busby OBE

Margaret Busby, Honorary Graduate, SOAS University of London

Margaret Busby OBE, Hon FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon), editor, writer and critic, was born in Ghana and educated in Britain. She was Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when in the 1960s she co-founded Allison & Busby, for which she was Editorial Director for 20 years, overseeing an international list of respected authors, both new and established. She was subsequently Editorial Director of Earthscan Publications, before pursuing a freelance career.  She has broadcast regularly for radio and television, and has written drama both for radio and the stage. 

As well as writing for such national outlets as The Guardian, Observer, Independent, Sunday Times and the New Statesman, she has contributed to and edited books such as Carnival: A Photographic and Testimonial History of the Notting Hill Carnival (2014) and No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960–1990 (2018). She compiled the pioneering Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent (1992) and its 2019 follow-up New Daughters of Africa.

Margaret Busby has worked continuously for diversity within the publishing industry and in the 1980s was a founding member of the organisation Greater Access to Publishing. She has been a participant in various literary festivals and conferences internationally, and has been “in conversation” with such writers as Toni Morrison, Wole Soyinka, (a SOAS Honorary Fellow), Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Nawal El Saadawi.

In addition to serving on the boards of cultural organisations, including the Drum Arts Centre, Penumbra Productions, Africa Centre, English PEN, the Royal Literary Fund, the African & Caribbean Music Circuit, the Hackney Empire, the Organisation of Women Writers of Africa, and Wasafiri magazine, she has judged awards such as Africa39, the Caine Prize, the Commonwealth Book Prize, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the SI Leeds Prize, the NGC Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the Wole Soyinka Prize, and is a trustee of jazz education organisation Tomorrow’s Warriors and of Friends of the Huntley Archives at the London Metropolitan Archives.

Honours she has received include an Honorary Fellowship from Queen Mary, University of London, the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters, and the Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature, for lifelong achievement.