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Bernardine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo is an author of novels, young adult fiction and literary criticism. Born to an English mother and Nigerian father in Woolwich, London, in 1959, she completed the innovative Community Theatre Arts degree at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, London, and later attended Goldsmiths, University of London, where she earned a PhD in Creative Writing. She began her career in drama, co-founding the first black women’s theatre company in Britain, Theatre of Black Women (1982-1988), with Paulette Randall and Patricia Hilaire. The company’s plays included Silhouette (1983) and Pyeyucca (1984).

Evaristo made a name for herself as a novelist with the publication of her novels in verse, Lara (1997; rev. ed. 2009), exploring the roots of a young woman’s migrant family,  and The Emperor’s Babe (2001), set in Roman London. In Soul Tourists (2005) she explores the history of Black Europe and in her dystopian Blonde Roots (2008) she presents a photonegative account of slavery. Her most recent novels are Mr Loverman (2014) and Girl, Woman, Other (2019). When the latter novel was awarded the Booker Prize, Evaristo became the first black woman to win the prize.

Evaristo is a literary critic for The Guardian and The Independent and has edited various anthologies and literary magazines. Her fiction has received many awards, including an EMMA Best Book Award and a NESTA. The Emperor’s Babe and Hello Mum were adapted for the radio and broadcast by BBC Radio 4. She received an MBE in 2009 and is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Art and the Royal Society of Literature. In 2015 she took up a position as Professor at Brunel University London. She currently lives in London.


Acquarone, Cecilia. Barriers, Borders and Crossings in British Postcolonial Fiction: A Gender Perpective. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.

Bernard, Louise. “Bernardine Evaristo.” Twentieth-First Century ‘Black’ British Writers, edited by Victoria Arana, Detroit (MI), Thomas Gale, 2009, pp. 119-127.

“Bernardine Evaristo: The Waterstones Interview - Booker Prize 2019 Winner.” YouTube, 17 Oct. 2019,

Buonanno, Giovanna. Black British Women’s Theatre in the 1980s and the Politics of Representation.” Stages of Embodiment in Postcolonial Theatre, special issue of Textus: English Studies in Italy, vol. 30, no. 2, 2017, pp. 67-82.

Burkitt, Katharine. Blonde Roots, Black History: History and the form of the slave narrative in Bernardine Evaristo’s Blonde Roots. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, vol. 48, no. 4, 2012, pp. 406-417.

—. Breaking the Mould: Escaping the Term 'Black British' in the Poetry of Bernardine Evaristo and Jackie Kay. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, vol. 60, 2010, pp. 83-95.

—. Imperial Reflections: The Post-Colonial Verse-Novel as Post-Epic. Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds, edited by Lorna Hardwick and Carol Gillespie,  Oxford UP,  2007, pp. 157-169.

—. Literary Form as Postcolonial Critique. Ashgate, 2012.

Collins, Michael. “My Preoccupations are in My DNA: An Interview with Bernardine Evaristo.” Callaloo, vol. 31, no. 4, 2008, pp. 1199-1203.

Coskun, Kubra Kangulec. “Exploration of the Maternal Semiotic for Female Subjectivity in Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe.” Interactions, vol. 26, no. 1, ser. 2, 2017. 

Cuder-Domínguez, Pilar. “Black Bodies in History: Bernardine Evaristo’s Fiction.” Cultural Migrations and Gendered Subjects: Colonial and Post-Colonial Representations of the Female Body, edited by Silvia Pilar Castro Borrego and María Isabel Romero Ruiz, Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2011, pp. 55-74.

—. “Ethnic Cartographies of London in Bernardine Evaristo and Zadie Smith.” European Journal of English Studies, vol. 8,.no. 2, 2004, pp. 173-188. 

—. “(Re)Turning to Africa: Bernardine Evaristo’s Lara and Lucinda Roy’s Lady Moses.” Write Black, Write British: From Post Colonial to Black British Literature, edited by Kadija Sesay, London, Hansib, 2005.

Derks, Jackielee. “Snow White Remixed: Confronting Aesthetic Obsession and Race in Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird.” Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, vol. 7, no. 2/3, 2017, pp. 139-148.

Diggins, Alex. “Bernardine Evaristo shoulders weighty themes lightly: Giel, Woman, Other reviewed.” The Spectator, 21 Dec. 2019.

Evaristo, Bernardine.“CSI Europe: African Elements. Fragments. Reconstruction. Case Histories. Motive. Personal.” Wasafiri, vol. 23, no. 4, 2008, pp. 2-7.

—. Island of Abraham, London, Peepal Tree, 1994.

—. Lara, London, Angela Royal Pubmication, 1997.

—. The Emperor’s Babe, London, Penguin, 2001.

—. Soul Tourists, London, Penguin, 2005.

—. Blonde Roots, London, Penguin, 2008.

—. Lara, London, Bloodaxe, 2nd rev. ed., 2009.

—. Hello Mum, London, Penguin, 2010.

—. Mr. Loverman, London, Penguin, 2013.

—. Girl, Woman, Other, London, Penguin, 2019.

Gendusa, Ester. “Bernardie Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe: Re- narrating Roman Britannia, De- essentialising European History”. Synthesis, vol. 8, 2015, pp. 47-62.

Gunning, Dave. “Cosmopolitanism and Marginalisation in Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe.” in Write Black, Write British: From Post Colonial to Black British Literature, edited by Kadija Sesay London: Hansib, 2005, pp. 165-178.

Gustar, Jennifer. “Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe: Re-Narrating Roman Britannia, De-Essentialising European History.” Synthesis: An Anglophone Journal of Comparative Literary Studies, no. 8, 2015, pp. 47-62.

Hauthal, Janine. “Rewriting ‘white’ genres in search of Afro-European identities Travel and crime fiction by Bernardine Evaristo and Mike Phillips.” English Text Construction, vol. 10, no. 1, 2017, pp. 37-58.

Hooper, Karen. “On the Road: Bernardine Evaristo interviewed by Karen Hooper.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, vol. 41, no.3, 2006, pp. 2–15.

Hutchinson, Marsha, and Zoe Norridge. “Great Writers at Home: Bernardine Evaristo on writing Britain’s Black History.” Youtube, uploaded by Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds, 29 August 2017. 

Le Gendre, K. Rev. of Blonde Roots, by Bernardine Evaristo. The Independent 24 Aug. 2008. 25 March 2011.

Magree, Victoria. “‘Make of Me a Memory Once More’: Remember Black Europe Through Literature.” Discover Society, vol. 21, 2015.

McCarthy, Karen. “Bernardine Evaristo Interviewed by Karen McCarthy”. Valparaiso Poetry Review: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, 2006,

McLeod, John. “Transcontinental Shifts: Afroeurope and the Fiction of Bernardine Evaristo.” In: Afroeurope@n Configurations: Readings and Projects. Ed. Sabrina Brancato. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011, pp. 168-182. 

Muñoz-Valdivieso, Sofia. “Revisiting the Black Atlantic: Bernadine Evaristo’s Blonde Roots.” Interactions: Ege University Journal of British and American Studies, vol. 19, nos. 1-2, 2010, pp. 53-64.

Niven, Alastair. “Alastair Niven in Conversation with Bernardine Evaristo.” Wasafiri, vol. 16, no. 34, 2001, pp. 15-20. doi:10.1080/026900501085589749. 

 Nunius, Sabine. “Bernardine Evaristo’s Soul Tourists: Black Britishness via a European Detour.” Coping With Difference: New Approaches in the Contemporary British Novel (2000-2006). Berlin: LIT-Verlag, 2009, pp. 156-189.

Phillips,Rowan. “Review The Emperor’s Babe.” Callaloo, vol. 27, no. 2, 2004, pp. 565-569.

Procter, James. “Bernardine Evaristo.” British Council Literature. Writers. 2002. Accessed 13 March 2013.

Rass, Theresa. “A Poetic Journey: ‘The Emperor’s Babe’ in Search of Identity in Virtual Places of Ancient Londinium.” GRIN, 2010. Accessed 26 May 2016.

Rosenberg, Ingrid von. “If… Bernardine Evaristo’s (Gendered) Reconstructions of Black European History.” Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, vol. 58, no. 4, 2014, pp. 381-395.

Scafe, Suzanne. “Unsettling the Centre: Black British Fiction.” The History of British Women Writers. Vol. X, edited by Mary Eagleton and Emma Parker, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2015, pp.  214-228.

Sethi, Anita. “Bernardine Evaristo: ‘I Want to Put Presence into Absence.’” The Guardian, 27 April 2019.

Toplu, Şebnem. Fiction Unbound Bernardine Evaristo. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011. 

—.“‘Suicide Heights’: Council Estates as Sites of Entrapment and Resistance in ​Hello Mum.” Advances in Language and Literary Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, 2014, pp. 169-174.

Tournay-Theodotou, Petra. “Reconfigurations of ‘Home as a Mythic Place of Desire’: Bernardine Evaristo's Soul Tourists.” Projections of Paradise. Ideal Elsewheres in Postcolonial Migrant Literature, edited by Helga Ramsey-Kurz and Geetha Ganapathy-Doré, Rodopi, 2011, pp. 105-121. 

Velickovic, Vedrana. “Melancholic Travellers and the Idea of (Un)Belonging in Bernardine Evaristo’s Lara and Soul Tourists.” Journal for Postcolonial Writing, vol. 48, no. 1, 2012, pp. 65-78.

Walters, Tracey. “Black British Women’s and the Politics of Hair.” Diasporic Women’s Writing of the Black Atlantic: (En) Gendering Literature and Performance, edited by Emilia M. Durán-Almarza and Esther Álvarez-López, Routledge, 2014, pp. 60-62.

Weedon, Chris. “Identity and Belonging in Contemporary Black British Writing” Black British Writing, edited by R. Victoria Arana and Lauri Ramey, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, pp. 73-98.

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