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Fri, 07.07.1944

Margaret Busby, Writer and Publisher born

Margaret Busby

*The birth of Margaret Busby is celebrated on this date in 1944. She is a Black publisher, editor, writer, and broadcaster resident of the UK.

Margaret Yvonne Busby was born in Accra, Ghana, to Dr. George Busby and Mrs. Sarah Busby (née Christian). Her parents sent their three children to be educated in England when Busby was five. She and her sister first attended a school in the Lake District, followed by Charters Towers School, an international girls' boarding school in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, then spent a year at a college in Cambridge so as not to begin university too young.

From 17, Busby studied English at Bedford College, where she edited her college literary magazine, published her poetry, and graduated with a BA Honors degree at 20. She was married to British jazz musician and educator Lionel Grigson. While still at university, she met her future business partner Clive Allison. They decided to start a publishing company, Allison and Busby (A & B), whose first books were published in 1967, the then youngest and the first African woman book publisher in the UK. She was Allison & Busby's Editorial Director for 20 years, publishing many notable authors. During this time, she published the book Daughters of Africa.

In 2018, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote, The Voice newspaper listed Busby – alongside Kathleen Wrasama, Olive Morris, Connie Mark, Fanny Eaton, Diane Abbott, Lilian Bader, and Mary Seacole among eight Black women who have contributed to the development of Britain.  Bustle magazine included Busby with Mary Prince, Claudia JonesEvelyn Dove, Olive Morris, Olivette Otele, and Shirley Thompson on "7 Black British Women Throughout History That Deserve To Be Household Names In 2019". Also, in 2018, she was among 150 "Leading Women" celebrated by the University of London to mark the 150 years since women gained access to higher education in the UK in 1868 and featured in the exhibition Rights for Women: London's Pioneers in their Own Words staged at Senate House Library from July 16 to December 15, 2018.

In July 2019, she was awarded the inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award, presented at the British Library during the Royal African Society's annual literary weekend as part of the festival's headline event celebrating Busby's anthology New Daughters of Africa. Busby is frequently cited as a pioneer in the history of black publishers in the UK and is acknowledged as a "pathfinder" by those who followed in her footsteps working towards making the books industry and its output more diverse. Busby was named on the 2020 list of 100 Great Black Britons, voted on by the public and with a scope of 400 years. In May 2021, she received the London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award.

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2021 Birthday Honors for services to publishing. Busby was the editorial director of Earthscan before pursuing a freelance career as an editor, writer, and critic. In August 2022, Busby headlined the Berlin African Book Festival, delivering the keynote address. She has several honorary degrees from the Open University, SOAS, and Royal Holloway. In June 2022, Busby also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter.

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