Bonnie Greer, OBE, is an American-British playwright, novelist and critic. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, the eldest of seven children born to Ben – a Mississippi sharecropper, Chicago factory worker and D-Day veteran – and Willie Mae, who went to work at fifteen to support her family. Although she began writing plays at the age of nine, Bonnie initially set out on a legal career, the career of choice for a black girl coming of age in the Civil Rights movement. She decided to return to writing instead of pursuing the law and went on to study playwriting in Chicago under David Mamet and at the Actors Studio in New York with Elia Kazan.
Bonnie has been a regular contributor to BBC2’s ‘Newsnight Review’ and ‘Question Time’. She was a panel member on the show that also featured Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party. Commenting after the recording she called it ‘probably the weirdest and most creepy experience of my life’. The encounter formed the basis for her libretto for Errollyn Wallen’s opera, Yes (2011), commissioned by the Royal Opera House, Linbury Theatre. Her plays have been produced on BBC Radio 3 & 4; BBC 2; and in the West End. She has won the Verity Bargate Award for best New Play and has been shortlisted for the John Whiting Award.
In 2010 Bonnie was named by the Observer as one of the 300 Public Intellectuals in the UK – the only female playwright – and was also awarded an OBE. She has been Deputy Chair of the British Museum, and has served on the boards of RADA, London Film School and Theatre Royal, Stratford East. Bonnie is currently Chancellor of Kingston University.
Trailblazers: Letters to My Younger SelfTuesday February 4 2020