Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Olajumoke Oyeyemi (born 10 December 1984) is a British novelist and writer of short stories. Since 2014 her home has been in Prague.[1][2]

Helen Oyeyemi
BornHelen O. Oyeyemi
10 December 1984 (age 34)

Life and writings

Oyeyemi wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl, while studying for her A-levels[3] at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. While studying social and political sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, Oyeyemi saw two of her plays, Juniper's Whitening and Victimese, performed by fellow students to critical acclaim, and subsequently published by Methuen.

In 2007 Bloomsbury published Oyeyemi's second novel, The Opposite House, which is inspired by Cuban mythology.[4][5] Her third novel, White is for Witching, described as having "roots in Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe", was published by Picador in May 2009. A fourth novel, Mr Fox ("a meditation on the writing process itself, filled with vignettes about how language may ensnare or liberate", wrote Anita Sethi),[6] was published by Picador in June 2011, and a fifth, Boy, Snow, Bird, in 2014.[7]

Oyeyemi's latest book, the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, was released in 2016.[8]

Professional awards and recognition

Her novel White Is For Witching was a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award finalist and won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. In 2009 Oyeyemi was recognized as one of the women on Venus Zine's "25 under 25" list. In 2013 she was included in the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list.[9] Boy, Snow, Bird was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2014. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours won the PEN Open Book Award: for an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2016.[10]

Oyeyemi was a judge on the Booktrust Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for 2015,[11] and served as a judge for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.[12]



  • The Icarus Girl (2005)
  • The Opposite House (2007)
  • White is for Witching (2009, French translation as Le Blanc va aux sorcières, 2011)
  • Mr Fox (2011)
  • Boy, Snow, Bird (2014)[7]
  • Gingerbread (2019)


  • Juniper's Whitening (2004)[13]
  • Victimese (2005)

Short story collections

  • What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (2016)


  1. ^ Hoggard, Liz (2 March 2014). "Helen Oyeyemi: 'I'm interested in the way women disappoint one another'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  2. ^ Bradshaw, M. René (16 March 2016). "What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi". The London Magazine. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  3. ^ Jordan, Justine (11 June 2011). "Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Oyeyemi's 'Opposite House'". Tell Me More. 26 June 2007. NPR.
  5. ^ D'Erasmo, Stacey (27 February 2014). "Helen Oyeyemi's 'Boy, Snow, Bird' turns a fairy tale inside out". The Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi – review", The Observer, 13 May 2012.
  7. ^ a b Quinn, Annalisa (7 March 2014). "The Professionally Haunted Life Of Helen Oyeyemi". NPR.
  8. ^ Oyeyemi, Helen (8 March 2016). What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. Place of publication not identified: Riverhead Books. ISBN 9781594634635.
  9. ^ "Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4". Granta (123). 2013. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013.
  10. ^ "2017 PEN America Literary Awards Winners", Pen America, 22 February 2017.
  11. ^ Irvine, Lindesay (27 May 2015). "Jenny Erpenbeck Wins Independent Foreign Fiction Prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  12. ^ Medley, Mark (14 January 2015). "The Giller Prize expands its jury to five people". The Globe and Mail.
  13. ^ "Juniper's Whitening by Helen Oyeyemi", Methuen.

External links

1984 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1984.

Boy, Snow, Bird

Boy, Snow, Bird is a 2014 novel by British author Helen Oyeyemi. The novel, Oyeyemi's fifth, was a loose retelling of the fairytale Snow White. Oyeyemi also cited the novel Passing as an inspiration. The novel was named as one of the best books of 2014 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and BuzzFeed.

Daisy Johnson (writer)

Daisy Johnson (born 1990) is a British novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, Everything Under, was shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, and is the youngest nominee in the prize's history. For her short-stories, she has won three awards since 2014.

Hurston-Wright Legacy Award

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards program honors Black writers in the United States and around the globe for literary achievement. Introduced in 2001, the Legacy Award was the first national award presented to Black writers by a national organization of Black writers.Each fall, writers and publishers are invited to submit fiction, nonfiction and poetry books published that year. Panels of acclaimed writers serve as judges to select nominees, finalists and winners. A number of merit awards are also presented. Nominees are honored at the Legacy Awards ceremony, held the third Friday in October. The awards ceremony is hosted and organized by the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

The 2018 award honorees were announced in June.

Jessamy Harrison

Jessamy Wuraola Harrison (born July 25, 1986 in London) is a fictional character created by author Helen Oyeyemi.

Lady Gwendolen Gascoyne-Cecil

Lady Gwendolen Gascoyne-Cecil (28 July 1860 – 28 September 1945) was a British author who wrote a four-volume biography of her father, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, entitled Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury. She also wrote a short story called The Little Ray for the August 1894 edition of Pall Mall Magazine.In October 2017, author Johnny Mains revealed Lady Gwendolyn as the author of the story The Closed Cabinet - a work once considered anonymous

List of 21st-century writers

This is a partial list of 21st-century writers. This list includes notable authors, poets, playwrights, philosophers, artists, scientists and other important and noteworthy contributors to literature. Literature (from Latin litterae (plural); letters) is the art of written works. Literally translated, the word literature means "acquaintance with letters" (as in the "arts and letters"). The two most basic written literary categories include fiction and non fiction.

List of Black British writers

This is a list of Black British writers, born in or associated with the UK, who already have a Wikipedia page.

List of Nigerian women writers

This is a list of women writers who were born in Nigeria or whose writings are closely associated with that country.

List of Yoruba people

This is a list of Yoruba people, who are famous, notable, distinguished or have excelled in various fields of human endeavour.

List of books written by children or teenagers

This is a list of notable books by young authors and of books written by notable writers in their early years. These books were written, or substantially completed, before the author's twentieth birthday. The list is arranged alphabetically by author.

Alexandra Adornetto (born 1993) wrote her debut novel, The Shadow Thief, when she was 13. It was published in 2007. Other books written by her as a teenager are: The Lampo Circus (2008), Von Gobstopper's Arcade (2009), Halo (2010) and Hades (2011).

Jorge Amado (1912–2001) had his debut novel, The Country of Carnival, published in 1931, when he was 18.

Prateek Arora wrote his debut novel Village 1104 at the age of 16. It was published in 2010.

Daisy Ashford (1881–1972) wrote The Young Visiters while aged 9. This novella was first published in 1919, preserving her juvenile punctuation and spelling. An earlier work, The Life of Father McSwiney, was dictated to her father when she was 4. It was published almost a century later in 1983.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (born 1984) had her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, published in 1999. Subsequent novels include Demon in My View (2000), Shattered Mirror (2001), Midnight Predator (2002), Hawksong (2003) and Snakecharm (2004).

Marjorie Bowen (1885–1952) wrote the historical novel The Viper of Milan when she was 16. Published in 1906 after several rejections, it became a bestseller.

Oliver Madox Brown (1855–1874) finished his novel Gabriel Denver in early 1872, when he was 17. It was published the following year.

Pamela Brown (1924–1989) finished her children's novel about an amateur theatre company, The Swish of the Curtain (1941), when she was 16 and later wrote other books about the stage.

Celeste and Carmel Buckingham wrote The Lost Princess when they were 11 and 9.

Flavia Bujor (born 1988) wrote The Prophecy of the Stones (2002) when she was 13.

Lord Byron (1788–1824) published two volumes of poetry in his teens, Fugitive Pieces and Hours of Idleness.

Taylor Caldwell's The Romance of Atlantis was written when she was 12.

Félix Francisco Casanova (1956–1976), Le Don de Vorace, was published in 1974.

Hilda Conkling (1910–1986) had her poems published in Poems by a Little Girl (1920), Shoes of the Wind (1922) and Silverhorn (1924).

Abraham Cowley (1618–1667), Tragicall History of Piramus and Thisbe (1628), Poetical Blossoms (published 1633)

Maureen Daly (1921–2006) completed Seventeenth Summer before she was 20. It was published in 1942.

Juliette Davies (born 2000) wrote the first book in the JJ Halo series when she was 8 years old. The series was published the following year.

Samuel R. Delany (born 1942) published his The Jewels of Aptor in 1962.

Patricia Finney's A Shadow of Gulls was published in 1977 when she was 18. Its sequel, The Crow Goddess, was published in 1978.

Ford Madox Ford (né Hueffer) (1873–1939) published in 1892 two children's stories, The Brown Owl and The Feather, and a novel, The Shifting of the Fire.

Anne Frank (1929–1945) wrote her diary for two-and-a-half years starting on her 13th birthday. It was published posthumously as Het Achterhuis in 1947 and then in English translation in 1952 as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. An unabridged translation followed in 1996.

Miles Franklin wrote My Brilliant Career (1901) when she was a teenager.

Alec Greven's How to Talk to Girls was published in 2008 when he was 9 years old. Subsequently he has published How to Talk to Moms, How to Talk to Dads and How to Talk to Santa.

Faïza Guène (born 1985) had Kiffe kiffe demain published in 2004, when she was 19. It has since been translated into 22 languages, including English (as Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow).

Sonya Hartnett (born 1968) was thirteen years old when she wrote her first novel, Trouble All the Way, which was published in Australia in 1984.

Alex and Brett Harris wrote the best-selling book Do Hard Things (2008), a non-fiction book challenging teenagers to "rebel against low expectations", at age 19. Two years later came a follow-up book called Start Here (2010).

Georgette Heyer (1902–1974) had The Black Moth published when she was 19.

Susan Hill (born 1942), The Enclosure, published in 1961.

S. E. Hinton (born 1948), The Outsiders, first published in 1967.

Palle Huld (1912–2010) wrote A Boy Scout Around the World (Jorden Rundt i 44 dage) when he was 15, following a sponsored journey around the world.

George Vernon Hudson (1867–1946) completed An Elementary Manual of New Zealand Entomology at the end of 1886, when he was 19, but not published until 1892.

Katharine Hull (1921–1977) and Pamela Whitlock (1920–1982) wrote The Far-Distant Oxus, a British children’s novel in 1937, followed in 1938 by Escape to Persia and in 1939 by Oxus in Summer.

Leigh Hunt (1784–1859) published Juvenilia; or, a Collection of Poems Written between the ages of Twelve and Sixteen by J. H. L. Hunt, Late of the Grammar School of Christ's Hospital in March 1801.

Gordon Korman (born 1963), This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall (1978), three sequels, and I Want to Go Home (1981).

Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775–1818) wrote the Gothic novel The Monk, now regarded as a classic of the genre, before he was twenty. It was published in 1796.

Nina Lugovskaya (1918–1993), a painter, theater director and Gulag survivor, kept a diary in 1932–37, which shows strong social sensitivities. It was found in the Russian State Archives and published 2003. It appeared in English in the same year,

Joyce Maynard (born 1953) completed Looking Back while she was 19. It was first published in 1973.

Helen Oyeyemi (born 1984) completed The Icarus Girl while still 18. First published in 2005.

Christopher Paolini (born 1983) had Eragon, the first novel of the Inheritance Cycle, first published 2002.

Emily Pepys (1833–1877), daughter of a bishop, wrote a vivid private journal over six months of 1844–45, aged ten. It was discovered much later and published in 1984.

Anya Reiss (born 1991) wrote her play Spur of the Moment when she was 17. It was both performed and published in 2010, when she was 18.

Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891) wrote almost all his prose and poetry while still a teenager, for example Le Soleil était encore chaud (1866), Le Bateau ivre (1871) and Une Saison en Enfer (1873).

John Thomas Romney Robinson (1792–1882) saw his juvenile poems published in 1806, when he was 13.

Françoise Sagan (1935–2004) had Bonjour tristesse published in 1954, when she was 18.

Mary Shelley (1797–1851) completed Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus during May 1817, when she was 19. It was first published in the following year.

Mattie Stepanek (1990–2004), an American poet, published seven best-selling books of poetry.

John Steptoe (1950–1989), author and illustrator, began his picture book Stevie at 16. It was published in 1969 in Life.

Anna Stothard (born 1983) saw her Isabel and Rocco published when she was 19.

Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti (c. 1445–1505) wrote his first book, Sharh Al-Isti'aadha wal-Basmalah, at the age of 17.

F. J. Thwaites (1908–1979) wrote his bestselling novel The Broken Melody when he was 19.

John Kennedy Toole (1937–1969) wrote The Neon Bible in 1954 when he was 16. It was not published until 1989.

Catherine Webb (born 1986) had five young adult books published before she was 20: Mirror Dreams (2002), Mirror Wakes (2003), Waywalkers (2003), Timekeepers (2004) and The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle (February 2006).

Nancy Yi Fan (born 1993) published her debut Swordbird when she was 12. Other books she published as a teenager include Sword Quest (2008) and Sword Mountain (2012).

Kat Zhang (born 1991) was 20 when she sold, in a three-book deal, her entire Hybrid Chronicles trilogy. The first book, What's Left of Me, was published in 2012.

Mr. Fox (disambiguation)

Mr Fox is a British folk rock group.

Mr. Fox may also refer to:

Fantastic Mr. Fox, a children's novel by Roald Dahl

Fantastic Mr. Fox (film), an animated film based on the children's novel

Mr. Fox (character), a character in the fairy tale called The Robber Bridegroom

Mr. Fox, a 2011 novel by Helen Oyeyemi

Nigerian literature

Nigerian literature is the literature of Nigeria which is written by Nigerians, for Nigerians and addresses Nigerian issues. It is written in English, Igbo, Urhobo, Yoruba, Hausa, and the other languages of the country. The languages used by authors in Nigeria are based in part on geography, with authors in the northern part of the country writing in Hausa. Nigerian authors have won numerous accolades, including the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Man Booker.


Oyeyemi is a Yoruba given name. Loosely interpreted it means The kingship belongs to meNotable people include:

Helen Oyeyemi British novelist

Modupe-Oreoluwa Oyeyemi Ola Nigerian rapper and singer

Fawole John Oyeyemi Nigerian chess player.

Bunmi Oyeyemi Julius-Adeoye Nigerian playwright and pioneering H.O.D, Department of Theater Arts, Redeemer's University Nigeria

Boboye Oyeyemi Federal Road Safety Corps corps marshal/head

Somerset Maugham Award

The Somerset Maugham Award is a British literary prize given each year by the Society of Authors. Set up by William Somerset Maugham in 1947 the awards enable young writers to enrich their work by gaining experience in foreign countries. The awards go to writers under the age of 35 with works published in the previous year to the award, the work can be either non-fiction, fiction or poetry.

Since 1964, multiple winners have usually been chosen in the same year. In 1975 and in 2012, the award was not given. The award has twice been won by the son of a previous winner: Kingsley Amis (winner in 1955) was the father of Martin Amis (1974), and Nigel Kneale (1950) the father of Matthew Kneale (1988).


The soucouyant or soucriant in Dominica, St. Lucian, Trinidadian, Guadeloupean folklore (also known as Loogaroo (also Lougarou) in Haiti, Louisiana, Grenada and elsewhere in the Caribbean or Ole-Higue (also Ole Haig) in Guyana and Jamaica or Asema in Suriname), in The Bahamas it is known as Hag. It is a kind of blood-sucking hag.

The Opposite House

The Opposite House is a novel by British author Helen Oyeyemi first published by Penguin Books in 2007.

Weird fiction

Weird fiction is a subgenre of speculative fiction originating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. John Clute defines weird fiction as a "Term used loosely to describe Fantasy, Supernatural Fiction and Horror tales embodying transgressive material". China Miéville defines weird fiction thus: "Weird Fiction is usually, roughly, conceived of as a rather breathless and generically slippery macabre fiction, a dark fantastic (“horror” plus “fantasy”) often featuring nontraditional alien monsters (thus plus “science fiction”)." Discussing the "Old Weird Fiction" published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock says, "Old Weird fiction utilises elements of horror, science fiction and fantasy to showcase the impotence and insignificance of human beings within a much larger universe populated by often malign powers and forces that greatly exceed the human capacities to understand or control them." Weird fiction either eschews or radically reinterprets ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and other traditional antagonists of supernatural horror fiction. Weird fiction is sometimes symbolised by the tentacle, a limb-type absent from most of the monsters of European folklore and gothic fiction, but often attached to the monstrous creatures created by weird fiction writers such as William Hope Hodgson, M. R. James, and H. P. Lovecraft. Weird fiction often attempts to inspire awe as well as fear in response to its fictional creations, causing

commentators like Miéville to say that weird fiction evokes a sense of the numinous. Although "weird fiction" has been chiefly used as a historical description for works through the 1930s, the term has also been increasingly used since the 1980s, sometimes to describe slipstream fiction that blends horror, fantasy, and science fiction.

Write or Die

Write or Die is an online web application designed to combat writer's block by letting users of the application punish themselves if they slow down or stop typing in the application's window. How severe the punishments are depends on the mode the user chooses, which ranges from "Gentle" to "Kamikaze". It was reviewed by publications PCWorld, the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian, and it was most notably used by writers Helen Oyeyemi and David Nicholls. The creator, Jeff Printy, explained that he wrote the application because he wants "to be published and make a living as a writer."

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