Wakatama Allfrey, Ellah

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey

Elected: 2019

Year of birth: 1966

Image credit: Charlie Hopkinson

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, OBE was born in Zimbabwe and raised there and in the United States. She is the founding Publishing Director of The Indigo Press, Senior Research Fellow at Manchester University (Centre for New Writing) and Chair of the Caine Prize for African Writing.

She is a judge for the 2019 Northern Writers’ Awards Fiction Prize. In 2017 she served as a judge for the Dublin International Literary Award and in 2015 for the Man Booker Prize. She has also served as chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and was on the judging panel of the 2011 David Cohen Prize and Caine Prize for African Writing. In 2012 she was chair of the fiction panel for the BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Literature. Her journalism has appeared in the Telegraph, Guardian and Observer newspapers and in Spectator magazine. She has also been a regular contributor to the book pages of NPR. Her broadcasting includes reviews for NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Archive on Four and Open Book as well as commissioning short stories for broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and for Audible.com. She has hosted conversations and chaired panels at festivals around the world, including the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia and Dhaka Bangladesh, the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka.

She is a trustee of The Royal Literary Fund and the Caine Prize for African Writing and sits on the Advisory board for Art for Amnesty and the Editorial Advisory Panel of the Johannesburg Review of Books.  She is the editor of Africa39 (Bloomsbury, 2014) and the anthology, Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction (Dundurn/Cassava Republic) and is a contributor to New Daughters of Africa (Myriad Editions, 2019). Her introduction to Woman of the Aeroplanes by Kojo Laing was published by Pearson in 2012.

Wakatama Allfrey is former deputy editor of Granta magazine and Editor at Large for Granta books. She has also been senior editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House, and Assistant Editor at Penguin. In 2016 she was Visiting Professor and Global and Intercultural Scholar at Goshen College, Indiana and Guest Master at the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellowship in Cartagena, Colombia. She has designed and delivered Skills Development and Training Workshops for editors and publishers in East and West Africa in collaboration with organisations including The African Writers Trust and the Farafina Trust and has designed and facilitated residential workshops in creative writing (fiction and non-fiction) in several countries in collaboration with organisation including the British Council, PEN International and the Commonwealth Foundation.  In 2011 she was awarded an OBE for services to the publishing industry and in 2016 was named one of New African Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential Africans’.

More of our Fellows

Warsan Shire

Tony Harrison

Peter Nichols

Dame Muriel Spark

Fellowship Election Process​

Fellows are nominated by peers and elected by our Council of writers – our governing Board. Being elected a Fellow of the RSL is a lifetime honour. This role gives them the opportunity to support other writers, readers and the future of literature. The RSL connects writers in the Fellowship to one another, and to a wider readership.