Celebrating Women Behind the Books #IWD2023

Women have made significant contributions to the publishing industry, playing critical roles in various capacities over centuries. From spotting and nurturing talent as agents, to editing, and design, publishing, and marketing, have and continue to work towards pushing the industry forward. In a world where such notable service is at risk of being muted or side-lined, it becomes critical to highlight these women at every opportunity.   

As we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate women in publishing ‘behind the scenes whose work is instrumental in bringing stories, realising dreams of author, and feeding the imagination of readers.

These women inspire us to keep the fire burning.

Ellah Wakamata-Allfrey,OBE

As a literary editor and critic, Allfrey has sat on numerous judging panels of prestigious awards and edited the anthology, Safe House, a collection of creative non-fiction from across Africa. She is currently editor-at-Large at Canongate Books, a senior Research Fellow at Manchester University and Chair of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing.

Sarah Ozo-Irabor

Ozo-Irabor is a literary practitioner whose work centres engaging and promoting African literature. She has been in instrumental in opening transnational conversations on works by writers of African descent, through her personal platform Books and Rhymes, a social media channel and podcast aimed at creating dialogue between literature and music. She is also the founder of Lit Avengers book club and currently serves as Director of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing.   

Ainehi Edoro

Edoro is an academic, writer and literary critic. She is the founder of Brittle Paper, a leading online platform dedicated to amplifying voices from the African literary landscape. Her essay writings and commentaries about contemporary African literary culture have featured in mainstream publications such as The Guardian and Africa is a Country.

Chinyere Okoroafor

Chinyere is a multidisciplinary artist who is passionate about storytelling, film, and architecture. Her works are characterised by landscape art, dreamy, playful, and whimsical design elements inspired by her love for fairy tales and her will to express complex subjects as well as the simplicities of everyday life.

Elise Dillsworth

Elise Dillsworth set up her agency in 2012 and became an associate of DHA in 2020. She represents literary and commercial fiction and non-fiction, with a keen aim to reflect writing that is international. Previously she was a commissioning editor at Virago Press, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group. She co-founded the Diversity in Publishing Network in 2005, which later became part of Equip. She has been a judge for numerous prizes including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the Northern Writers’ Awards.

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