People of Letters

2019

21st Century (2011-2016)

In the 2011 census 19.5% of the UK population were classed as ethnic minorities, a number likely to rise in next year’s census, 2021. As such, the issue of proper representation in publishing remains more pertinent than ever.

In 2015 Spread the Word commissioned a report called ‘Writing the Future’. Amongst other findings, the report discovered that in 2015 the UK’s three main literary festivals hosted over 2000 authors, only 2% of whom were from BAME backgrounds. This prompted the creation of Bare Lit Festival in 2016, a literary festival that celebrates the work of writers of colour, supported by Media Diversified.

Media Diversified also supported the creation of the Jhalak prize in 2016 which awards an annual prize for Best Book of the Year by a British writer of colour. Another prize launched in 2016 was the FAB prize, set up by Faber Children’s Publishing and Davinia Andrew-Lynch. The prize addresses the problem of a lack of diversity in children’s publishing by awarding an annual prize to a children’s author and illustrator from a BAME background. A Book Trust report found that less than 2% of children’s authors and illustrators in 2017 were of BAME backgrounds, making these awards necessary in order to find and represent diverse voices.

In a 2018 report, the Publisher’s Association UK found that only 11.6% of the UK’s publishing workforce identifies as BAME. As such the aspiration to create a diverse and representative British publishing world remains to this day.