Black History Month in Britain: Great British women you should know about

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Evelyn Dove (1902-1987)

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Evelyn was the daughter of a lawyer from Sierra Leone in Africa and his English wife.

She was a student at the Royal Academy of Music, which is a bit like the Royal Academy where Fanny Eaton modelled, but for music.

While she was there, she performed with some of the world’s top black entertainers and went on to become a singing and acting star of the 1920s.

She became famous all over the world, at a time when black female performers would struggle to get the same recognition as white entertainers because of racial prejudices.

Joan Armatrading (1950-today)

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Joan Armatrading is a name that if you are into blues you may already know.

This is because she was the first ever female UK artist to be nominated for a Grammy in the blues category. She went on to be nominated three times.

She arrived in the UK at the age of seven, from the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts. She started writing songs at the age of 14. She also taught herself to play the guitar.

In the 1970s, she became the first black British singer songwriter to enjoy great success abroad.

Then, in 2007, she became the first female UK artist to debut at number 1 in the Billboards blues chart (which is like the top 40 chart for blues music in

America).Margaret Busby (1944-today)

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Margaret is an extremely influential name in the world of publishing.

That’s because she was Britain’s youngest and first black female book publisher, when she co-founded the publishing company Allison & Busby in 1967, alongside a man called Clive Allison.

The company didn’t only publish work by black writers, but it did help to make the names of many black writers more well-known.

Talking about writing today, Margaret says: “Technology permits you to be your own publisher and editor, which should encourage a lot of us – especially young people – to write and express themselves.”

“Write because you really enjoy it and learn to be a good reader because the best writers read voraciously. Get to know the best books out there.”

Zadie Smith (1975-today)

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If you go into a book shop, you would be very likely to spot one of Zadie Smith’s books on the shelves.

She is an extremely successful author, having published her first book at the age of just 24.

Her books, which are inspired by her experience of issues around race and what society is like, have received many prizes.

She has also written essays and short stories, and now teaches at New York university.

Information taken from www. bbc.co.uk

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