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Buchi Emecheta

Buchi Emecheta (1944-2017) was the first post-war female novelist of African descent to publish in Britain. She also wrote a television play and stories for children.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, to Igbo parents in 1944, she persuaded her parents to allow her to attend school along with her younger brother. She studied at the Methodist Girls High School in Lagos until she got married at the age of sixteen. She joined her husband in the UK in 1962, but the marriage soon fell apart. Throughout the sixties and seventies Emecheta supported her young family of five by working as a librarian at the British Museum and as a youth and community worker. In the meantime she also read sociology at the University of London (obtaining a BSc in 1972 and a PhD in 1991) and established herself as a professional writer.

Her autobiography Head Above Water (1986) and her autobiographical novels In the Ditch (1972) and Second-Class Citizen (1974) give readers insight into the hardship she faced as a single black mother in Britain. Also later novels such as Gwendolen (1989) and her last novel The New Tribe (2000) address British racism. Other novels deal with the changing role of women in Nigerian society, including in The Bride Price (1976), The Slave Girl (1977), The Joys of Motherhood (1979) and in Kehinde (1994). In Destination Biafra (1982) and The Rape of Shavi (1983) she respectively focuses on the Nigerian civil war and the colonisation of Africa. Emecheta was a resident writer and professor at various universities in the United States and in Nigeria and received an OBE in 2005.


Agho, Jude, and Osighale Francis. “‘Wonder Women’: Towards a Feminization of Heroism in the African Fiction: A Study of the Heroines in Second Class Citizen and God’s Bits of Wood”, Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research, 2008, vol. 5, pp. 181-191.

Barthelemy, Anthony. “Western Time, African Lives: Time in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta”, Callaloo, 1989, vol. 40, pp. 559-574.

Bazin, Nancy Topping. "Feminist Perspectives in African Fiction: Bessie Head and Buchi Emecheta." Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, vol.17, no.2, 1986, pp. 34-40.

Bazin, Nancy Topping. “Venturing into Feminist Consciousness: Two Protagonists from the Fiction of Buchi Emecheta and Bessie Head”. A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, vol. 2, no. 1, 1985, pp. 32-36.

. “Buchi Emecheta's Legacy: Women Are Not Second-Class Citizens.” Ventures Africa, 26 Jan. 2017.

Dawson, Ashley. “Beyond Imperial Feminism : Buchi Emecheta’s London Novels and Black British Women’s Emancipation.” Mongrel Nation: Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain. University of Michigan Press, 2007, pp. 95-120

Emecheta, Buchi. Second-Class Citizen. Allison & Busby, 1974.

. “Buchi Emecheta.” Interviews with Writers of the Postcolonial World, edited by Feroza Jussawala and Reed Way Dasenbrock, University Press of Mississippi, 1992, pp. 82-91.

Frank, Katherine. “The Death of a Slave Girl: African Womanhood in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta.” World Literature Written in English, vol. 21. no. 3, 1982, pp. 476-497.

Gil-Naveira, Isabel. “Performing Identities and Utopias of Belonging: From Social to Individual Identity in the African Context: The Case of Adah in Buchi Emecheta’s Second-Class Citizen.” Performing Identities of Belonging, edited by Teresa Botelho and Iolanda Ramos. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013, pp. 6-20.

Haner, Sezgi Öztop. “The Double Otherness of Black Women: Buchi Emecheta’s Second-Class Citizen”. The Journal of International Social Research, vol. 10, no. 53.

Hanson, Clare and Watkins, Susan. The History of British Women’s Writing, 1945–1975. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017.

Haraway, Donna. “Reading Buchi Emecheta: Contests for Women’s Experience in Women’s Studies.” Inscriptions, vol. 6, 1992, pp. 107-124.Harris, Hermione. “Book Reviews: Second Class Citizen By Buchi Emecheta”. Race & Class, vol. 16, no. 4, 1975, pp. 433–435.

Husain, Kasim. Towards Socialism with a Small “s”: Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen and the Reconsideration of Welfare State Nostalgia. Postcolonial Text, vol. 8, no. 2, 2013, 1-22.

Iyer, Lisa H. “The Second Sex Three Times Oppressed. Cultural Colonization and Coll(i)(u)sion in Buchi Emecheta’s work.” Writing the Nation. Self and Country in the Post-Colonial Imagination, edited by John C. Hawley, Rodopi, 1996, pp. 123-138.

Katrak, Ketu H. “Womanhood/Motherhood: Variations on a Theme in Selected Novels of Buchi Emecheta.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature, vol. 22, no. 1, 1987, pp.  159-170.

Leggett, Jane. “Notes to the Text-Plus Edition.” Second-Class Citizen. Text-Plus Edition. Hodder and Stoughton, 1989.

McLeod, John. “Living Room. Buchi Emecheta, Joan Riley and Grace Nichols.” Postcolonial London. Rewriting the Metropolis. Routledge, 2004.

Muoneke, Romanus. "Migration, Transformation, and Identity Formation in Buchi Emecheta's In the Ditch and Kehinde." Middle Passages and the Healing Place of History: Migration and Identity in Black Women's Literature. edited by Elizabeth Brown-Guillory. Ohio State UP, 2006.

O’Reilly, Elizabeth. “Buchi Emecheta.” British Council Literature: Writers. 2007. Accessed 13 March 2013.

Porter, Abioseh Michael. “Second Class Citizen: The Point of Departure for Understanding Buchi Emecheta’s Major Fiction.” Emerging Perspectives on Buchi Emecheta, Africa World Press, 1995, pp. 267-277.

Prono, Luca. “Buchi Emecheta.” British Council Literature: Writers. 2004. Accessed 13 March 2013.

Sizemore, Christine W. "The London Novels of Buchi Emecheta." Emerging Perspectives on Buchi Emecheta, edited by Marie Umeh, Africa World Press, 1996.

Umeh, Marie. Emerging Perspectives on Buchi Emecheta. Africa World Press, 1996.

Ward, Cynthia. “What They Told Buchi Emecheta: Oral Subjectivity and the Joys of ‘Otherhood’” PMLA, vol. 105, no. 1, 1990, pp. 83-97.

Yearwood, Susan. “The Sociopolitics of Black Britain in the Work of Buchi Emecheta.” Black British Writing, edited by Victoria R. Arana and Lauri Ramey. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, pp. 137-144.

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