Join us, along with family and friends of novelist Andrea Levy, including Melanie Abrahams Hon FRSL, Kwame Dawes Hon FRSL, Bill Mayblin, Ella Mesma, Michael Perfect and Gary Younge, for an evening celebrating her life and work. Expect personal stories, readings from her papers, and sound recordings, creating an intimate portrait of the prize-winning author. This event is part of the Leeds Lit Festival.
Journalist and broadcaster Gary Younge leads a conversation between friends and family of Andrea Levy to celebrate her life and work, on what would have been her 65th birthday.
Melanie Abrahams Hon FRSL is an arts curator, visiting lecturer, and a literature producer. She consistently pushes for greater diversity in the arts, with a focus on narratives of race, class and social background and mixed-race identities. Melanie is the Creative Director of Renaissance One and Tilt which champion the literature and spoken word artforms through events, tours, education and projects. She curates festivals including CaribbeanFest and in 2019, Black Arts World: Slate Weekender, a City of Ideas/Eclipse Theatre Company project showcasing over fifty artists of colour in the North of England. She is an Enabler for Slate World, a Creative Europe funded project which explores Black and BAME European identities.
Kwame Dawes Hon FRSL is the author of twenty-two books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His collection, Nebraska was published in 2020. He is Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. Kwame is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His awards include an Emmy, the Forward Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry. In 2021, Kwame Dawes was named editor of American Life in Poetry.
Bill Mayblin’s career was as a graphic designer. He trained initially in Sheffield, the place of his birth, and subsequently in London where in the early 1980s he co-founded a design practice called Information Design. Around this time he met Andrea and they remained together until her death in 2019. Andrea became part of the design practice several years before she began to write, and continued to be part of it until the practice finally ended in the late 2000s. Bill was very active in supporting Andrea’s writing and her subsequent literary career and has collaborated closely with the British Library in assembling her archive. Now retired, he lives in north London in the home that he and Andrea shared for over 30 years
Ella Mesma is an artist, a yogi, a writer, a teacher and a coach. Ella directs the international touring Ella Mesma Dance Company, is the author of Journal to Joy and director of award winning company Business Yoga. As a trained dancer, performance highlights have included Russell Maliphant Company, Lea Anderson (The Chomondeleys), 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, Southpaw & Uchenna. Of mixed heritage based between Leeds, where she studied politics, and her home town Bristol, Ella began her dance career dancing salsa in clubs, and training samba in Brazil.
Michael Perfect is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Liverpool John Moores University. His main research and teaching interests are in twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature and culture, and he has published widely within this field. His publications on Andrea Levy include numerous journal articles and book chapters, and he has taught Levy's work at universities in the UK and overseas. He is currently writing a book on Andrea Levy for Manchester University Press. He is also co-editing a forthcoming Levy-themed special issue of the journal ARIEL, which will include posthumous work by Levy herself. He was the first academic to carry out research on Levy's archive, and his ongoing work on the archive is supported by a BA/Leverhulme research grant.
Gary Younge, a close friend of Andrea Levy and our chair for this event, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and a professor of sociology at the University of Manchester. Formerly a columnist at The Guardian he is an editorial board member of the Nation magazine and the Alfred Knobler Fellow for Type Media. He has written five books: Another Day in the Death of America, A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives; The Speech, The Story Behind Martin Luther King’s Dream; Who Are We?, And Should it Matter in the 21st century; Stranger in a Strange Land, Travels in the Disunited States and No Place Like Home, A Black Briton’s Journey Through the Deep South. He has also written for The New York Review of Books, Granta, GQ, The Financial Times,and The New Statesman, and made several radio and television documentaries on subjects ranging from gay marriage to Brexit.
In association with Leeds Lit Fest and the British Library.
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