Meet UK author and journalist Precious Williams

Precious Williams’s first book, Precious, A True Story, published by Bloomsbury in August 2010, is a memoir about growing up in trans-racial’private foster care’.  (A US edition, titled Color Blind, is published by Bloomsbury USA).

Precious’s story has been featured on Sky News and  BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and in the Daily Telegraph & the Guardian.  Her memoir was also serialized in The Times and featured as a People Magazine “Great Read,” a Sunday Times “Must Read” and Elle Magazine‘s “Recommended Read” for August 2010. A German translation of the book, titled Farbenblind, was published in October 2010. Precious was first published aged eight when her poem took first prize in a poetry competition (she won £2).
Since then she has been a Contributing Editor at Elle, Cosmopolitan and the Mail on Sunday’s ‘Night & Day’ magazine. Precious’s work has also been published in The Times, Marie Claire, the Sunday Times Magazine, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the Financial Times, Glamour, Korean Vogue, New York magazine, Wallpaper and several other publications. Her journalism focuses on health and lifestyle features and celebrity interviews.  Notable interviewees include [click on each link to read the interviews] Jon Bon JoviNina Simone, Yoko Ono,  Destiny’s Child, P Diddy, Bryan FerryLenny Kravitz, Naomi Campbell and Ali G.

Born in the UK, Precious is of Sierra Leonean and Nigerian descent and she has lived in London and in New York.  She studied English Language & Literature at Oxford and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Periodical Journalism from the London College of Printing.

Precious lives in London and is at work on her second book, a novel and she is a Children’s Ambassador for the charity Africans Unite Against Child Abuse.


‘Where are you from?’ is a question I always find hard to answer. 1971: an ad in Nursery World. Private foster parents required for a three-month-old baby – me. The lucky applicant is a 57-year-old white woman who has adored ‘coloured’ children ever since reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and falling in love with the character Topsy… My mother arrives, a haughty Nigerian woman in a convertible with a Moses basket on the seat beside her, setting the net curtains in this all-white council estate twitching. And though  my privileged mother claims the whole place makes her skin crawl, she returns to London with an empty basket beside her, choosing this home for me because, unusually for the estate, my new foster mother talks proper, and I’ll need a posh white accent for the bright future I have ahead of me.Babypic

I’ll cling onto that idea – that I’ve a bright future ahead of me – even though there’s nothing in my upbringing to warrant it. Even though my mother’s love consists of long absences, confusing behaviour and dauntingly high expectations. Even though my foster mother’s love is overwhelming and suffocating. Even though, from infancy,  I seem to be a magnet for abusive sexual attention from  men I barely know. Even though the authorities have no idea where to put me or where I belong, and nor, really, do I. Preciousis the story of growing up black in a white community, of struggling to find an identity that fits mid conflicting messages, of deciphering a childhood full of secrets and dysfunction.


‘Gorgeously written with a fiercely honest voice. Williams will grow up [to become] Precious, “the writer, the grown woman…” How she gets there is a serpentine road that’s as shatteringly moving as it is incredible. This book is not so much a coming-of-age story as a harrowing coming-to-be tale.’**THE BOSTON GLOBE**


‘Astonishingly, there is little bitterness here: Williams’s writing is accomplished — pacey yet carefully spare, so that sadness and anger hover over her narrative rather than suffocate it. Such is the vividness of her characters and dialogue that, having unburdened herself, Williams now might choose — with the promise of some success — to turn her back on her day job as a journalist and find a powerful new voice by making the leap into fiction.’  **THE SUNDAY TIMES**


‘Precious Williams upends every expectation about race, class, gender and ambition in her startlingly powerful memoir’.’ **USA TODAY**


‘The confusion, ignorance, clarity and struggles Williams encounters along the way are riveting reading with Williams’ deft descriptions and child-like honesty. The ongoing contradictions and battles among Williams, Nanny and Williams’ mother are mesmerizing…. Throughout it all, Williams retains her dignity and imparts a simple wisdom.’ **SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW**


‘Precious Williams’ brave examination of identity and loss reminds us that by going into the heart of what we are most afraid of we find our liberation.’ **EVE ENSLER, creator of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES**


‘Recounts how this London-born daughter of a Nigerian princess came to be raised by an elderly white woman in an English housing project [council estate]’ ELLE Magazine ‘Recommended Read’ for August 2010


‘Powerful and arresting memoir…’ **THE BOOKSELLER MAGAZINE**


‘Williams offers an English journalist’s wry, charming memoir of being a black Nigerian girl growing up in a 1970s white foster home…Her beautifully wroung memoir reaches back deeply and generously to regain the preciousness she felt lost to her.’ **PUBLISHERS WEEKLY**


‘An affecting memoir…Williams touches on themes that have ever opportunity to come off syrupy, but she continually rescues the narrative from mawkishness…the story moves along toward a satisfying conclusion that speaks to aspiration and desire.  Well done.’ **KIRKUS REVIEWS**


Precious is an extraordinary book.  Alternately alarming and funny, always spare and beautifully crafted, this is a testament to the internal exile of subordinated social groups that no reader should miss.’ **Denise Mina, author of THE DEAD HOUR**


‘Precious is an achingly beautiful triumph of will that is both heart-wrenching and hopeful.  I was riveted to the pages, completely immersed in her world, even taking the book to sporting events and reading while everyone around me was cheering on the game.’ **Lolita Files, author of CHILD OF GOD**

African History Month UK – Customs, Culture and Commemoratives

When: 1 – 29 October 2011
Where: Stanley Gibbons, 399 Strand, London WC2R 0LX, 9am – 5:30pm

In celebration of Black History Month UK, rare stamp and collectibles dealer Stanley Gibbons will be hosting an exhibition based on the stamp collection of award-winning African-Caribbean creative, Jon Daniel.

Stamps have been sourced by the expert team at Stanley Gibbons to supplement the personal collection of Jon Daniel and will be complemented by a range of autographs and memorabilia from their subsidiary, Fraser’s Autographs.

Image: Photos of Stamps from the African Diaspora in Monograph

The collection, originally inspired by the lyrics of Public Enemy’s, ‘Fight The Power’, features in the October edition of Creative Review’s exclusive publication, ‘Monograph’ and will form part of a wider exhibition being held at Stanley Gibbons flagship store at 399 Strand, London from 1-29th October. The exhibition will also be available to view online at and via a dedicated Facebook page.

African History Month UK – The Black Hair Film Series with debate & workshop

Where: Tricycle Cinema,269 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7JR
When: Sun 30 Oct, 2.30pm

An IBHM event, the Black Hair Film Series is a fun & educational family afternoon on Black Hair and Beauty with film screening and discussion, a natural hair workshop, make-up & hair demonstration stalls.

Films include: the ultimate black Hair film “My Nappy Roots”

After screening discussion:
“Resisting the perceived sense of beauty for black women and girls”
Guests: Angie Le Mar, Regina Kimbell (director, My Nappy Roots, USA), Sherry Dixson(TBC) & Margot Rodway-Brown (Adornment)

Natural Hair Workshop: interactive, visual & fun workshop on the Three Fundamentals to maintain natural hair.

African History Month UK – Screening: Miracle at Santa Anna (15 cert)

When: Sat 29 October 2-5pm
Where: BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road SE1
Adm: £5.00

Black World War Two troops in heroic action movie never released in this country.

Starring Laz Alonso, Michael Ealy, Derek Luke and directed by Spike Lee. See it on the big screen with Q an A afterwards.

Also at 11am on the same day Black British RAF War Hero Cy Grant who was also an actor, will be featured on the big screen with a two hour review of his biggest films plus Q and A with those who knew him.

African History Month UK – Screening: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

When: Friday 28 October 6.30pm-9.00pm plus Q and A
Where: Kensington Library Theatre, Phillimore Walk, off High St Kensington, London W8 7RX.
Adm: Online tickets only £8.00 click to book

Simply astonishing from start to finish !!

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is unique. It gathers together a treasure trove of original film footage produced for Swedish television and shot in the US during that tempestuous period of American history, when the Black Power movement, anti-Vietnam-war protests, rebellious students, and a general resistance to authority captured the attention of the world — especially in Sweden, where in the words of filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson, documentary-makers reacted “with a combination of commitment and naïveté” to the upheavals across the Atlantic.

Found in a basement these are 40 year old never-before-seen interviews with Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, Huey P Newton, Kathleen Cleaver, Eldridge Cleaver, Harry Belafonte, Bobby Seale, Minister Farrakhan. Also featuring Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli and Mario Van Peebles.
Further screenings on 29,31 Oct. 4,5,6 November

African History Month UK – Somali Week Festival Launch: Poetry & Discussion, Book Presentation

When: Saturday 22nd October 2011, 6:00pm-10:00pm
Where: Oxford House, Derbishire street, London E2 6HG
Adm: £10
(In Somali and English)

Somali Week Launch

The theme for this year’s festival will be introduced by Sarah Maguire, Director of the Poetry Translation Centre followed by a presentation from Dr Mpalive-Hangson, reader in English and humanites at Birkbeck Universty. Then Mahamed Haashi Dhama ‘Gaarriye’ will launch SWF 2011. This event will pay particular tribute to the work of Musa Ismail Galaal in the context of translation and the exposure of Somali litrature.

We invited academics, researchers and people who have known or worked with Musa Galaal, to write about his life and work and we will launch a short volume containing contributions by Martin Orwin, Alexander Zholkovsky, Georgi Kapchits, Sheila Andrejewiski, Anita S Adam, Sarah Maguire and Jama Musse Jama with the preface of Professor Ioan M. Lewis. This volum will also contain translated works of our guest artists in honour of the role Muse Ismail Galaal played in research, preservation of indigenous knowledge, Somali history, culture and heritage.

African History Month UK – MWALIMU EXPRESS: Destination Mogadishu

When: 22 October 12pm – 6pm
Where: RichMix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA

Mwalimu Express

London’s only free lunchtime Pan African Family adventure chugs in with a dazzling experience of Africa and the Diaspora.

All aboard the MWALIMU EXPRESS as we pull in to African cities and bring you awesome music from around the continent – balafon, mbira, talking drum, molo, oud and kora are just some of the instruments to be featured live by the amazing musicians we meet at each destination plus Rita Ray and Max Reinhardt on the dex spinning the tunes. Come listen to the stupendous storytelling sessions, play Oware, the compelling African game of strategy, watch Screen Station films and join in far out family arts workshops.

MWALIMU EXPRESS is brought to you by The Shrine