Helen Oyeyemi: Biography

Helen Oyeyemi

10 dec 1984

Helen Olajumoke Oyeyemi is a young British writer was born in Nigeria on December 10, 1984 and migrated with her parents to live in Britain. There she attended Cardinal Vaughn Memorial School and later Corpus Christ College, Cambridge where she studied political and social sciences.

Oyeyemi was an avid reader as a child and she particularly loved fairytales, the influence of which is reflected in her stories. Her making as a writer might have begun in her childhood when she felt the need to re-write the endings of stories she did not like. A further impetus for her writing was the fact that she grew up in a storytelling tradition, so the transition to writing came almost naturally.

Helen Oyeyemi is a very talented writer who wrote her first book when she was only 19 and still in high school. Her writing ability also extends to drama as she scripted two plays while attending university. On their performance, they were highly praised and were later published as books. Since then, she has gone on to write four more novels with the third one, White is for Witching, winning the Somerset Maugham Award. It has also been translated in French.

Oyeyemi, in her novels, juxtaposes the spiritual and the real world and they tend to have a strain of very dark humour. They are grounded in the traditional fairytales but with the author’s own peculiar twists and re-visioning which defy the normal.

Her name was included on the 2013 Granta Best of Young British Novelists as someone to watch for future performance as a writer of note. She also appeared on the 2009 list of Venus Zine, a magazine that features outstanding young women in music, culture and fashion.

Helen Oyeyemi is very active in literary circles, serving as judge for book prizes and awards. Oyeyemi is a religious person who finds time to do voluntary work. She is also what one might call a “city-hopper” as she enjoys visiting and living in different cities in the world.