Ellen Banda-Aaku was born in 1965. She grew up in Zambia where she attended Woodlands Primary School and then St Mary’s Secondary School in Lusaka before studying for a BA degree in Public Administration at the University of Zambia. The Zambian author also has an MA in Social Policy from Middlesex University and an MA in Creative Writing obtained with Distinction from the University of Cape Town.

Ellen’s first book for children Wandi’s Little Voice, won the 2004 Macmillan’s Writers Prize for Africa. In 2007 Ellen’s short story Sozi’s Box won the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Her first novel, Patchwork, was published in 2011 and won the Penguin Prize for African writing and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth prize 2012.

Although Ellen has published books primarily for young teens, her short stories have been published in anthologies in Australia, South Africa and the US.

Ellen is a full time writer who spends her time promoting creative writing in Africa. In 2011 she conducted creative writing workshops in South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda.

In 2006, Ellen sat on the judging panel for the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa.