Bernardine Evaristo was born as the fourth of eight children to an English mother and Nigerian father in London in 1959. She studied drama at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance and gained a PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. She was a co-founder of the Theatre of Black Women, the first company of its kind in the UK to be made up entirely of black women, for which she also wrote plays and performed. Since the beginning of her career, Bernardine Evaristo has been committed to the inclusion of writers and artists of color. In the 1990s, she organized the first major British conferences on Black theater and Black writing.
She made her literary debut in 1994 with the publication of the poetry collection »Island of Abraham«. Subsequent books, verse novel and novels, highlighted Evaristo’s interest in the African diaspora. They were always well received by critics, and won several awards. Her international breakthrough came with »Girl, Woman, Other« , for which Evaristo was the first Black British writer to be awarded the Booker Prize. Set in contemporary London, the novel depicts the lives and histories of twelve characters, primarily black and female, from different generations and backgrounds. It was acclaimed for its complexity as well as for its experimental style: the prose is written in what Evaristo terms »fusion fiction«, a fiction-poetry hybrid that creates a unique rhythm while reading. The German radio station DLF Kultur stated that »Evaristo’s novel traverses the history of England as a successive postcolonial liberation movement that addresses issues of gender and race and even Brexit«.
Bernardine Evaristo also used the success of her novel and the resulting interest in her as a person to draw attention to her political concerns. Most recently, she published »Manifesto: On Never Giving Up« , a memoir in which Evaristo tells of her life in a way that is »racy and funny, brutal and touching, mostly self-ironic, and above all: uninhibitedly honest« [»DIE ZEIT«].
Bernardine Evaristo is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, President of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance and President of the Royal Society of Literature [2022–2026]. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire [OBE] for her services to literature. The author lives in London.