Classic Author Focus: Flora Nwapa

Flora Nwapa

Flora Nwapa has been called the mother of Nigerian writing, and she was the first African woman novelist to be published in English in Britain. She is best known for recreating the life and customs of the Igbo from a woman’s viewpoint. She also worked with orphans and refugees who were displaced after the Biafran War. She was one of the first publishers of African literature and promoted women in African society.

Flora was born in southeastern Nigeria, the daughter of an agent of the United Africa Company and a drama teacher. She earned a B.A. in Nigeria and then studied education in Edinburgh, Scotland. She first worked for the Ministry of Education and then as a teacher of geography and English. Her first novel was published when she was 30, Efuru, which is considered a pioneering work as an English-language novel by an African woman writer. It is based on an Igbo folk tale. She followed this by several novels, a book of poetry, and children’s books and in 1975 founded the Tana Press.

Nwapa continued to be an educator throughout her life, teaching at colleges and universities such as Trinity College, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Ilorin. She died of pneumonia at the age of 62.

Dates: 1931-1993

Most popular works: Efuru, Idu, Never Again, One is Enough

Other works: Women Are Different, The Lake Goddess, This Is Lagos and Other Stories, Wives at War and Other Stories, Cassava Song and Rice Song, The Miracle Kittens, Journey to Space

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