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Bernardine Evaristo was born in London to a Nigerian father and an English mother. She trained as an actress and has traveled widely. Her debut novel, Lara, won the EMMA (Ethnic Multicultural Media Awards) Best Book Award in 1999. A former Poet in Residence at the Museum of London, Bernadine Evaristo won an Arts Council of England Writers' Award in 2000. She was appointed Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia in 2002.