Andrea Levy worked as a costume assistant until the death of her father in her mid-30s forced her to confront her racial heritage. Her debut novel, Every Light in the House Burnin’, was published when she was 38. As with much of her work, it was a semi-autobiographical novel about the children of the Windrush Generation and their lives in 70s London. Her defining work, Small Island, was published in 2004 and won the Whitbread Prize, as well as getting a BBC adaptation.
Levy was first diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago. A documentary about her work shown on BBC 1 in late 2018 revealed she was in rapidly failing health, but apparently only one of you was watching. Kudos to Simply Dead for a well-earned unique hit.