Skip to Content
Skip to main content

Professor Bernardine Evaristo
Professor - Creative Writing

Gaskell Building 132


Professor Bernardine Evaristo won the Booker Prize 2019 for her novel, Girl, Woman, Other. It also won the British Book Award for Best Fiction and Author of the Year (2020) and the Indie Book Award (2020), and it received many other awards and honours. It is an internartional bestseller, and was a Barack Obama 'Top 19 Book for 2019' and it made over 35 Book of the Year honours including for the New Yorker, Washington Post and the Financial Times. It was a Sunday Times 'Book of the Decade' and a 'Book That Defined the Decade' for the Guardian. The novel was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller for five weeks, staying in the Top 10 for 44 weeks. Her books have been published in over forty languages.

Her writing is focused on African diaspora interests and is characterised by unique temporal, spatial and stylistic experiments that test the borders of genre. Her first two non-fiction books are: Manifesto: On Never Giving Up  (Penguin, 2021) and an essay on women of colour in British Art as part of the Tate's Look Again series: Look Again: Feminism (Tate Publishing, 2021). Her other books of fiction and verse fiction include Mr Loverman (Penguin 2013), Hello Mum (2010), Lara (Bloodaxe 2009), Blonde Roots (Penguin 2008) and The Emperor’s Babe (Penguin 2001). Her writing spans drama and other writing for BBC Radio 3 & 4, as well as short fiction, poetry, memoir, theatre drama and essays. She spent over two decades until 2019 reviewing books for the national newspapers and magazines, including the Times, Guardian, New Statesman, TLS and Independent. She has edited and guest-edited several publications and magazines including Britain's leading poetry journal, Poetry Review, Wasafiri and the Sunday Times STYLE magazine in July 2020, with a black women takeover. 

She has accepted over 170 international invitations since 1996 to present her work and ideas touring to festivals and other literary events all over the world, and she frequently appears at literary festivals and events in Britain. She is also a keynote speaker delivering talks. She has chaired and judged many literary prizes including the Women's Prize for Fiction - chairing it in 2022; the Forward Prizes for Poetry (books), chairing in 2023; the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribean Literature - chairing in 2023; and the Global Black Women's Non-Fiction Manuscript Prize, which she is chairing in 2024. She founded the hugely successful The Complete Works poetry development scheme for poets of colour, 2007-2017 (many of its 30 alumni are now the leading UK poets of today, winning most of the UK's poetry prizes multiple times) and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize in 2012-2022, founded to develop African poetry and setting in motion the careers of its winner who are now publishing multiple books. It's now renamed the Evaristo African Poetry Prize and is run by the African Poetry Book Fund. She has been the Sky Arts Literature Ambassador and is currently the Literature Mentor for the Rolex Mentor & Protege Initiative (2022-2024). She is also the curator of the 'Black Britain: Writing Back' series with Penguin Random House, republishing books from the past. Since 2021, thirteen books have been republished with an introduction by Bernardine.

Her first career was in theatre, studying at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, and co-founding Theatre of Black Women (1982-1988), and she later earned her PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London.

She has been the subject of two major documentary series, Imagine (BBC, 2020) and The Southbank Show (Sky Arts, 2021).

At Brunel University she has received the following awards: CBASS Lecturer of the Year Award (2022); Vice Chancellor's Award for Staff (2020); Teach Brunel Awards: Best Small Module Awards (2017); CBASS Award for Excellence (2015). From 2014-2018 she was Public Orator for the University.

Bernardine has received over 70 awards, honours and nominations. She made the 'UK Black Powerlist 100' three years in a row (2021, 2022, 2023) and in 2020 she made the one-off '100 Great Black Britons' list; she received the Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Contribution to Literature (2023); she was a Forbes '50 over 50' honoree (2022); she made The Bookseller's Powerlist (2019, 2021) and she was named their 'Person of the Year' in 2022. She was No 26 on the Sky Arts  list of Britain's Most Influential Artists of the Past 50 Years; other awards include  those fromVanity Fair, Glamour and Stylist magazines and the Soho House Writers' Award (all:2020-2022). She has to date received ten honorary doctorates and Fellowships from universities.

Other honours include being made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She became Vice Chair of its Council, and was then appointed a lifetime Vice President in 2020. However, she was then appinted President, 2022-2026, the second woman and the first person of colour to receive this honour since the RSL was founded in 1820. She is also an International Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; an Honorary Fellow of the English Association, and Honorary Fellow of St Anne's College, University of Oxford. In 2020 she became President of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.

In 2009 she was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for being ‘a major voice in the multicultural panorama of multicultural British literature’, and she received an OBE in 2020.

Newest selected publications

Evaristo, B. (2022) 'Manifesto On Never Giving Up'. Grove Press. ISSN 10: 0802158900 ISSN 13: 9780802158901


Evaristo, B. (2021) 'Feminism'. Look Again. ISSN 10: 1849767165 ISSN 13: 9781849767163


Evaristo, B. (2019) 'GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER'. London: Penguin Random House. ISSN 10: 0241364906 ISSN 13: 978-0241364901


Evaristo, B. (2015) 'Fiery Inspiration: Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement'. [BBC RADIO 4 - 2015.]


Evaristo, B. (2013) 'Mr Loverman'. London: Penguin.

More publications(18)