October is Black History Month, an awareness month and a nationwide celebration of black history, arts and culture throughout Britain. The events, articles, study and remembrance throughout the country make October worth celebrating each year.
As well as applauding achievements and success over the decades, the month also provides a vital reflection on the challenges that remain. In this way the month plays a vital role in raising awareness of British social history and the continued importance of identity, social equality and integration
Black History Month is essential in promoting learning, providing information and contributing to community cohesion. For the past 30+ years it has shone, and continues to shine, a beacon of light on the facts about Black history, heritage, legacy and the on-going struggles for equality and justice. More than that, it educates, informs and inspires many to be proud of who they are and to understand history, origins and the right to exist as equals.
This year, to celebrate Black History Month, we’ll be looking at some of the incredible black British authors who are, or have, contributed to the wonderful world of books and the literary culture.
There are so many talented black authors it’s hard to choose one, which is why in this blog we’ll be shining a light at 20 of these incredible authors – all of whom have books you can borrow from Hampshire Libraries.
To browse their books, click or tap the author’s name for a full list of the books available to borrow.
Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut
Ade Adepitan is a British television presenter, wheelchair basketball player and now children’s author, he was awarded an MBE for services to disability sport in 2005.
His first book was published in 2018.
Afro-Guyanese playwright, poet and children’s writer, John Agard, was born in Guyana in 1949 – 17 years before Guyana became independent.
Beloved children’s author Atinuke, spent her childhood in both England and Nigeria. She’s most known for the ‘Anna Hibiscus’ – and ‘The no. 1 car spotter’ -series.
Yaba Badoe is a Ghanaian-British documentary filmmaker, journalist and author, who writes fictional books aimed at teens and young adults.
Her first novel, True Murder was published in 2009.
Floella Benjamin was awarded an OBE in 2001 for services to broadcasting, and in 2010 she was awarded the title ‘Baroness’.
She’s written over 20 books for both adults and children, her most recent book ‘Sea of Tears’ was published in 2012.
Humour breaks down boundaries, it topples our self-importance, it connects people, and because it engages and entertains, it ultimately enlightens.John Agard, Half Caste and Other Poems
Malorie Blackman is a children’s author who’s written over 50 books for childrens, teens and young adults. She was awarded an OBE in 2008, and held the position of Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015.
Valerie Bloom is a children’s writer and poet, she received an MBE in 2008. She was born in Jamaica in 1956, she was six years old when Jamaica attained full independence from the United Kingdom.
Her most recent poetry collection, Jaws and claws and things with wings was published in 2013.
Joseph Coelho is from Roehampton, just outside London. He’s an author, performance poet and playwright. Starting May this year, he’s on a Library Marathon, the aim of which is to join a library in every region of the UK.
His latest book A Year of Nature Poems, was published earlier this year and contains 12
poems – one for each month of the year.
Diana Evans is an author, journalist and critic. Her latest book Ordinary People was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize For Fiction award.
Her first novel was published in 2005, and she’s since written another three books for adults.
Bernardine Evaristo holds an MBE, a FRSL, a FRSA and a FEA, she’s the author of eight novels. Her latest novel Girl, Woman, Other is currently shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and for the Gordon Burn Prize.
Sometimes the things you’re convinced you don’t want turn out to be the thing you need the most in this world.Malorie Blackman, Boys Don’t Cry
Aminatta Forna is a Scottish-Sierra Leonean author of four novels, one memoir and one anthology.
She was awarded an OBE in 2017 for services to literature, and have been awarded a number of awards and honours.
Born in Brighton, Patrice Lawrence writes books for both adults and children. Her 2016 novel, Orangeboy, won the ‘Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Children’.
Andrea Levy was born in London 1956, she’s most known for her two novels Small Island and The Long Song. Her books explore topics related to British Jamaicans and how they negotiate racial, cultural and national identities.
Andrea Levy sadly passed away 14 February 2019.
Dreda Say Mitchell is a crime author, broadcaster, journalist and freelance education consultant, born in London in 1965.
In 2005, she was the first black British author to win the The John Creasey Dagger.
Nadifa Mohamed is a Somali-British novelist, currently living in London. Her debut novel, Black Mamba Boy, was both longlisted and shortlisted for a number of awards when it first came out.
In 2013, she featured on Granta magazine’s ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ list.
Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.Andrea Levy, The Long Song
Charles Ignatius Sancho was a British composer, actor, and writer. He is the only black Briton known to have voted in the 18th century for members of parliament in Westminster.
A collection of his letters was published two years after his death in 1782.
Zadie Smith is an award winning author from
London, her debut novel White Teeth became a best-seller and won a number of awards. Four of her books have been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, one of which, On Beauty won in 2006.
Ben Bailey Smith is an English rapper, comedian, actor, screenwriter, radio presenter and voice-over artist, also known by his stage name Doc Brown. He’s written two picture books, both of which can be found in Hampshire Libraries.
Alex Wheatle is an author of books for young adults and adults. He received the London Arts Board New Writers Award in 1999 for his debut novel Brixton Rock.
In 2008 he was awarded an MBE for services to literature
Born in 1958, Benjamin Zephaniah is a writer, dub poet and playwright. He’s most known for his poetry and teen fiction novels. In 2008 he was included in The Times list of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers.
Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.Zadie Smith, White Teeth