The latest film about the George Padmore Institute (GPI) archive collections covers the International Book Fairs of Radical Black and Third World Books 1982-1995. Margaret Busby, the first black woman publisher in the UK, and Janice Durham, Trustee of the GPI and director of New Beacon Books, both provide insights into the impact of the book fairs as well as their cultural importance.
The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books was founded by New Beacon Books, Race Today Publications and Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications. All three organisations were forerunners of radical black publishing in the UK and, in the case of New Beacon and Bogle, international bookselling. Twelve book fairs took place in London between 1982 and 1995, with additional fairs in Manchester, Bradford, Leeds and Glasgow. Participants from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Central America, the USA, Germany, France and Belgium participated in the book fairs and came to exhibit, order and distribute books.
A festival accompanied each book fair and included literary events, theatre, music and film showings. There were also debates on contemporary issues which were often ahead of their time, from the rise of new technologies to the idea of the shorter working week. And there were events for children too.
The film on the International Book Fairs is available to view on the Discover page.
For more detailed information about the International Book Fairs 1982-1995 collection and for a link to the archive catalogue visit the archive page here
Margaret Busby CBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a major cultural figure in Britain and around the world. Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, she graduated from Bedford College, London University, before becoming Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. At Allison & Busby, she published notable authors including Buchi Emecheta, Nuruddin Farah, Rosa Guy, C. L. R. James, Michael Moorcock, Jill Murphy, Sam Greenlee, Roy Heath, George Lamming, Andrew Salkey, Ishmael Reed and John Edgar Wideman.
A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, she has written drama for BBC radio and the stage, with radio abridgements and dramatisations encompassing work by Henry Louis Gates, Timothy Mo, Walter Mosley, Jean Rhys, Sam Selvon and Wole Soyinka. She has interviewed high-profile writers including Toni Morrison, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Ben Okri, judged the Booker Prize among others, and served on the boards of such organisations as the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nubian Jak Community Trust and the Africa Centre in London.
A long-time campaigner for diversity in publishing, she is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of several honorary doctorates and awards, including the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal and the Royal African Society’s inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award.
Janice Durham was born in Grenada and came to Britain at the age of twelve. She trained as a nurse but has worked with New Beacon Books since 1979. She is their Book Service Manager, dealing with the supplies of books to libraries, colleges, schools and overseas institutions. She was a member of the Black Youth Movement and an executive member of the Peoples War Carnival Band. She has been an active participant in the Carnival movement.
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Margaret Busby and Janice Durham