Beverley Naidoo was born in South Africa and grew up under apartheid. After arrest and detention without trial, she came to England. She married another exile and was only able to return freely twenty-six years later, after Nelson Mandela’s release from jail. Their two children were brought up in England where she still lives. She goes back to South Africa to stay in touch, especially with young people. A teacher for many years, she has a doctorate in education and a number of honorary degrees.
Journey to Jo’burg was her first children’s book. It was an eye-opener for readers worldwide, winning awards, but it was banned in South Africa until 1991. In Chain of Fire, No Turning Back and Out of Bounds her young characters face extraordinary challenges. Black and white, they are caught in a society that she describes as ‘more dangerous than any fantasy’. Her many awards include the famous Carnegie Medal and Smarties Silver Medal for The Other Side of Truth about two refugee children smuggled to London who also feature in Web of Lies. In Burn My Heart, she explores a hidden colonial story of uneasy friendship and betrayal in 1950s Kenya.
For younger children, her picture books include Baba’s Gift written with her daughter Maya. In The Great Tug of War she entertains all ages with animal trickster tales that her characters in Journey to Jo’burg would have shared around a night fire.