Buchi Emecheta was born in Lagos, Nigeria in July 1944. She emigrated to England in 1962 with her husband and two small children. After the break-up of her marriage and now with five small children to support, she lived in a series of slum apartments, while working full time at the British museum and studying for a Sociology degree.
In 1972, she contributed a column about black British life to the New Statesman magazine which formed the basis for her first published novel In The Ditch. While her children were growing she worked for a number of years as a teacher and a social worker, before settling down in the 1980s in her north London home as a full-time writer and academic.
Buchi Emecheta wrote 16 novels during her lifetime including The Joys of Motherhood, Second-Class Citizen, and the Slave Girl in 1978 for which she won the Jock Campbell New Statesman award. She wrote several children's stories and plays for stage, TV and radio, as well as a formal autobiography Head Above Water. In 1983, she was included as one Granta's Best of Young British Novelists, and in 2005, she was made an OBE for services to literature. She died in London in 2017 at the age of 72.