Ellah Wakatama, literary critic and Canongate editor-at-large, is to deliver this year's Harriet Martineau Lecture, a commission that sees speakers respond to the life, work, legacy and impact of the 19th century writer.
Organised by the National Centre for Writing (NCW), Wakatama's commission, titled "None but Ourselves", begins in 1980, the year Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and when 14-year-old Wakatama first discovered the "life-changing" work of Doris Lessing.
What follows is a journey through the women writers and thinkers who enabled Wakatma to "read as an act of resistance" and gave the young Black girl, in a minority in high school, the language to "take herself apart and put herself back together again". Her piece reflects on the work of Lessing, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Toni Morrison, and is accompanied by a visual score from filmmaker JulianKnxx.
The first lecture was delivered in 2013 by Ali Smith and has since been delivered by Kate Mosse, Masha Gessen, Linton Kwesi-Johnson and Sarah Perry. Each year writers explore Martineau’s internationalism, inspiration for feminism and role in the abolition of slavery.
The lecture and film will premiere online on 30th May at 7 p.m. as the final headline event of NCW's City of Literature Festival. The event is free but must attendees must register in advance.