Born on the Gold Coast of Africa in modern-day Accra, Ghana, in 1944, to parents Dr. George Busby and Sarah Busby, Margaret Yvonne Busby would become a literary pioneer for the United Kingdom’s black community. She attended high school in Sussex County until the age of fifteen before continuing her education at Bedford College at London University. Her concentration was English and journalism, she became the editor of her college’s magazine and graduated with an Honors Bachelor’s degree as a twenty year old. As a college student she met a man named Clive Allison who she would partner with to make history.
As a college graduate Busby would search for and find work at the Cresset Press, a London based independent publishing company. While working for the Cresset Press, Busby and Clive Allison were creating Allison & busby, their groundbreaking independent publishing company. Allison & busby officially opened for business in 1967, the company’s first three published books were The Spook Who Sat By The Door by Sam Greenlee, Behold the Man and The Final Programme by Michael Moorcock, all three books were published in 1969. Busby served as the editorial director for Allison & Busby from 1967 until 1987. During her time the company published books from authors such as H. Rap Brown, C.L.R. James, Ralph de Boissière, Rosa Guy, and many more. At the time of the founding of Allison & Busby Margaret Busby became the youngest person and the first black woman in the United Kingdom to found her own publishing company.
Busby did serve as the editorial director of the publishing company Earthscan for a short period of time, after working for Earthscan she would work as a freelance editor and writer. As an Earthscan employee she published books for Frantz Fanon, Han Suyin, Carolina Maria de Jesus and many others. Busby’s writing career wasn’t confined to editing; as a journalist she wrote for specialist journals, The Observer, The Independent, The Sunday Times, New Statesmen and The Guardian. When Busby wrote for The Guardian she was in charge of writing book reviews and obituaries for known or respected artist and social activist. In addition to writing, during the 1960s, Busby begin her career in television and radio, London Line, Break For Women and Talking Africa are some of the programs she appeared on. She was sought after to appear on a plethora of television and radio programs as her popularity increased. Radio broadcast would often invite her on their programs to entertain their audiences with various dramatizations based off of novels. In 1999, her dramatization of the novel Minty Alley by author C.L.R. James won the “Race In The Media Award” presented by the Commission for Racial Equality.
Busby used her immensely talented writing skills to write celebrated stage plays such as Sankofa, Yaa Asantewaa – Warrior Queen and An African Cargo. She was trusted with writing the logistics for the 2014 Maya Angelou: A Celebration tribute, held at the London Literature Festival. In 1992, she published her book Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent, a groundbreaking book that gave insight into the plight and the triumphs of women of African descent. During the 1980s, Busby was a founding member of Greater Access to Publishing, an organization who fought for more black representation in the publishing world. As a member of the Independent Black Publishers she has represented blacks working in the publishing world for over three decades. She was named one of eight black women whose contributions have helped with the development of Britain by The Voice newspaper in 2018. The newspaper Evening Standard named Busby as one of their fourteen inspirational black British women throughout history. Her pioneering work was recognized during the Rights for Women: London’s Pioneers in their Own Words exhibition in 2018.
Busby won the Society of Young Publishers Award in 1970, became an Honorary Member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha International Region in 1998, was given the Ghanaian traditional honor as Nana Akua Ackon in 1999, received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her services to Literature and to Publishing in 2006, received the UK African Heritage High Achievers Recognition Award and many more awards. She decided that she would use her voice and her pen to help make the world a better place. She was creative and brave enough to found a publishing company that still exist to this day. In the process of following her dreams, Margaret Busby managed to change the publishing industry in the United Kingdom. Black women are one of the main reasons many industries in this world are able to continue to thrive. Margaret Yvonne Busby, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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