Seven Dials has acquired Dame Elizabeth Anionwu’s memoir Dreams From My Mother, a trailblazing nurse's story of how she overcame a background of shame, stigma and discrimination to dedicate her to life to fighting inequality.
The book was originally self-published. Sam Eades has since acquired world rights in the inspirational life story, and it will be a lead title on the Seven Dials list, published with new material as a paperback original, e-book and audio, in June 2021.
Anionwu was born to an Irish mother and a Nigerian father during the 1940s, and raised by nuns at the Nazareth Children’s Home in Birmingham. In her memoir, she explores "the irrevocable bond between mother and daughter" as well as telling her life story. She was a "radical health visitor" in the 1970s and at the end of the decade became the UK’s first ever sickle cell nurse specialist. Recently named a BBC 100 Women of the Year 2020, she has continued her work throughout her retirement, and is a key figure in the UK highlighting how Covid-19 has had a disproportionate effect on Black and Asian communities.
Anionwu said: "I’m delighted that Orion is going to bring my self-published memoirs to a wider audience – come on, it’s something you just dream about! It was fellow nurses who encouraged me to write about my life. They strongly felt that it would encourage a new generation of nurses into our profession, who might be inspired by my story of overcoming the many challenges in my childhood from the stigma of illegitimacy, physical abuse and being a mixed-race woman. They also wanted me to share the journey that led me to become the first UK sickle cell nurse specialist and a Dame! I am delighted to hear about the impact my achievements have had on so many people.’
Eades said: "I couldn’t be prouder to publish Dame Elizabeth Anionwu’s memoir Dreams From My Mother, the inspirational story of how she overcame a difficult childhood of stigma and shame in the 1940s to work tirelessly to reduce inequalities facing Black, Asian and minority ethnic nurses and their patients, work that she continues to do today. Ultimately is an incredibly moving story of a mother and a daughter separated by society, but united in the dreams they shared for Dame Elizabeth’s future."
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