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    Helen Oyeyemi Biography: Inside The World of A Literary Sorceress


    By Max - Jul 7, 2023 | Updated On: 07 July, 2023 | 4 min read

    By Max , 4 min read - Jul 7, 2023

    Updated On: 07 July, 2023

    Helen Oyeyemi Biography. Image Source: Wikimedia commons

  • The award-winning author, Helen Oyeyemi, is a British writer popular for writing stories that are described as both magically beautiful and delightfully strange. Helen is a celebrated novelist with a number of critically acclaimed books in her name. She is mostly known for mixing twisted storytelling in her writings. Also, Helen is often called the ‘Queen of Fractured Fairy Tales’.

    Helen is internationally recognized as an author for writing novels such as The Icarus GirlWhite is For WitchingGingerbread, Peaces, and so on. With an exciting and enchanting literature style, Oyeyemi has established herself as a strong force in the world of literature.

    Oyeyemi’s works frequently draw inspiration from mythology, folklore, and fairy tales as she is drawn to their richness as sources of emotion. Learn everything about her in Helen Oyeyemi biography.

  • Passion of Writing: The Icarus Girl

    Helen Oyeyemi was born on December 10, 1984, in Nigeria. She was raised in London as her family moved to the country when she was four years old. From a young age, she was interested in fairy tales and stories. Likewise, Helen developed a passion for writing, and her parents even supported her decision to become an author. Meanwhile, her mother works for the London Underground, while her father is a substitute teacher.

    Helen Oyeyemi

    Helen Oyeyemi. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

    During her school days, Helen was an introvert and was often bullied, often making her alone and sad. Starting off in her early teens, Helen coped with reading books, and by age 15, she began writing short stories. At age 18, Oyeyemi wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl, an accomplished novel about an 8-year-old Nigerian girl.

    Helen completed her A-Levels from Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, and on the day of her result, she signed her first book contract. Finally, in 2005 when she was 20, The Icarus Girl was published while she was studying political science at Cambridge. The book received wide critical acclaim, with several praising Helen for her creativity. The book was so well written, with several newspapers praising calling it a mastery. Further, the novel was nominated for an Otherwise award in 2005.

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  • A Look into Helen’s Critically Acclaimed Novels

    In several of Oyeyemi’s stories and novels, she gives her main characters a kind of selective invisibility.

    Oyeyemi’s first novel, The Icarus Girl, tells the story of a young Nigerian girl Jessamy Harrison who moves to England and, as soon as she lands, begins to experience supernatural encounters.

    Helen Oyeyemi

    Helen Oyeyemi. Image Source: Instagram

    The 2007 novel, The Opposite House, is a tale that blends elements of magical realism with explorations of Cuban mythology. The novel explores the themes of polarity, displacement, and cultural identity.

    In 2009 Helen published White Is for Witching, which won a Somerset Maugham Award in 2010. The book explores a haunted house and tells the story of grief, family, and the complexities of racial and cultural identity. Additionally, it was shortlisted for several prestigious awards, including the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Shirley Jackson Award.

  • Helen Oyeyemi

    Helen Oyeyemi. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

    The 2011 novel, Mr. Fox, received positive reviews from The Guardian and The New York Times.

    In 2014, Oyeyemi published Boy, Snow, Bird, a reinterpretation of the Snow White fairy tale set in 1950s America. The novel examines themes of race, beauty, and the power dynamics of identity. The novel received mostly positive reviews and was named one of the best books of 2014 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and Buzz Feed.

    The 2016 novel, What Is Not Yours is a collection of interconnected short stories exploring the theme of keys and locks. Likewise, the 2019 Gingerbread is a tale that weaves together elements of fantasy and family drama. Further, her 2021 novel Peace is deeply intoxicatingly romantic, strange, and funny.

    In 2023, a collection of stories from fifteen best-selling award-winning writers was published titled Furies with authors including Helen, Ali Smith, Emma Donoghue, Linda Grant, Susie Boyt, etc.

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    Moving to Prague

    In 2006, Helen had doubts about living in London. One day she was sitting in Green Park reading a book called, The Executioner’s Song. Meanwhile, a stranger with an Eastern European accent approached and asked if he could talk. Helen agreed to take a break from the book. The two initially had a small talk about London, but after a while, he asked if he could lay his head on her lap. She said no, but the man forcefully laid his head on her lap.

    Feeling awkward yet to be angry, Helen was shocked when the man tried to kiss her. She rejected his gesture, but soon he pinned her to the ground with his whole body and kissed her forcefully. Eventually, she managed to give him a good kick, and he ran off.

    Afterward, she began searching for a more inviting place that she could call home. She roamed for six to eight months at a time to shortlist the cities. She went to New York for a Masters of Fine Arts (M.F.A) at Columbia but left after a semester. After visiting Prague, she kept comparing other cities to their mystery, and finally, she moved to become Czechia.

  • Queen of Fractured Fairy Tales

    Oyeyemi’s writing has received widespread praise for its imaginative storytelling and its ability to blur the lines between reality and the fantastical. She has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2013 for Boy, Snow, Bird.

    Helen Oyeyemi continues to captivate readers with her innovative narratives and her ability to delve into the depths of human experiences. Her works challenge traditional storytelling conventions and offer readers a glimpse into a world where magic and reality intertwine. On a similar note, Helen plans never to marry, and she contributes this idea to her characters.

    As a literary sorceress, Oyeyemi’s novels have established her as a truly remarkable and imaginative voice in contemporary literature. We hope to add her accomplishments to our article Helen Oyeyemi biography as she achieves them.


    Reporter, G. S. (2011, June 22). Once upon a life: Helen Oyeyemi. The Guardian.

    Best of Young British Novelists 5 | Granta. (2023, April 27). Granta.

    Downer, L. (2005, July 17). “The Icarus Girl”: The Play Date From Hell. The New York Times.

    Ukiomogbe, J. (2021). Helen Oyeyemi on Why Writing is Like “Inner Space Travel” Interview Magazine.

    Shaw, H. (2021b, March 29). The Queen of Fractured Fairy Tales. Vulture.

    Quinn, A. (2014, March 7). The Professionally Haunted Life Of Helen Oyeyemi. NPR.

    Akbar, A. (2019, March 4). Helen Oyeyemi: ‘I had such a lovely time dating different cities.’ The Guardian.

    Liu, M. (2021, October 26). Helen Oyeyemi: ‘My characters changed my mind.’ Financial Times.

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