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The UK’s first woman publisher of African descent, Margaret Busby, co-founder of Allison & Busby, is to receive the London Book Fair’s Lifetime Achievement Award joining a distinguished list that includes Sonny Mehta of Knopf, former Penguin Chief Executive Peter Mayer and the agent Deborah Rogers. Last year the award was given to Nigel Newton, CEO of Bloomsbury.
Busby is the first black person to receive the LBF’s most distinguished honour and she will receive the award from the black writers Zadie Smith and Bernadine Evaristo at an invitation-only in-person event in London on 2 July.
Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, Busby would go on to publish a wide variety of authors including Buchi Emecheta, CLR James and Michael Moorcock. She is also a writer, editor, broadcaster, and literary critic and has received numerous honorary doctorates and awards.
Commenting on the award she 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.
“Thank you to all my colleagues and friends, and those who have walked with me over the decades on paths less trodden, helping to forge exciting international links and collaborations between authors, editors, and booksellers. Throughout my career, I have published and worked with many incredibly fine writers, and I have been fortunate to be part of their ongoing success. My life in publishing was conceived while I was at university, not yet of age, and since that pre-dates the venerable London Book Fair, I can bear witness to how far that has come. Thank you, LBF, for all that you do, and thank you again for this amazing award.”
LBF director Andy Ventris said: “I am absolutely delighted that Margaret Busby is the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Margaret is a savvy publisher, a truly inspiring cultural figure, and an incredibly important champion for diversity. As Britain’s youngest and first Black woman publisher, she laid the ground for generations to come, and is still one of the most respected voices in publishing today. Margaret is such a worthy recipient and I am so pleased that we will be able to honour her achievements at LBF’s first in-person event since the pandemic struck. This is truly a cause for celebration, and I look forward to welcoming our guests to the presentation ceremony.”