top of page

Onjali's

(HER)STORY

She went to schools in Tower Hamlets and Newham, London. At age 15, she met a homeless man who she later came to know as "Thomas", and who inspired her to write a certain story about a Night Bus Hero ...

Both during and after her studies, Onjali worked a total of 17 jobs before becoming a published author. But during her lunch breaks and on her journeys to work, she continued to write her stories ...

onjali baby.png

Onjali was born in February 1981 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Two years later, she became the big sister to a little baby brother called Zakariah (who, after many years of fighting over He-Man, She-Ra, and the remote control, turned out to be The Best Little Brother on Earth). All of Onjali's books are dedicated to her mother and Zak.

Onjali age 15.jpg
aber and oxford.png
trolley1.jpg

She went on to study at George Monoux College, Walthamstow, but after failing to get the grades she needed to study History at Oxford University, she studied English Literature at the University of Aberystwyth, Wales instead. But! Her dream of studying at Oxford didn't end there! After another two attempts, she was accepted onto the university's Masters programme for Women's Studies. (Yeahy!)

Making-Herstory-Logo NEW.jpg

5 JULY 2011: Following a family tragedy, Onjali established a book club for what was soon to become her own women's rights organisation, Making Herstory. A name that was born many years before, during an argument she had with her GCSE History teacher about the missing her-stories of women in the His-Story books...

2 JULY 2015: After spending nine years writing and submitting a draft of Book I of The Legend of Arturo's Chocolate (a trilogy) to agents across the UK, Onjali received an email from an agent welcoming her to submit the full manuscript. That agent's name was Silvia Molteni of Peters Fraser & Dunlop agency, London... 

silvia molteni.jpg
O Refugee Aid Team Logo V.png

2017-2019: Onjali submitted the first chapters of The Boy at the Back of the Class in 2017. It was commissioned by Lena McCauley of Hachette and published in 2018. In 2019, it won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the Blue Peter Children's Book Award. Since then, it has won many awards including the Sakura Medal 2020 (Japan), the Cowbell Award 2021(Switzerland) and the Prix Janusz Korczak Prize 2022 (France).

The Boy at the Back of the Class was optioned for a theatre play by Rose Theatre, London, and a film by Studio Pictures. Both are currently in production...

Lena-McCauley.jpg

2015-2017: Whilst Silvia was busy trying to sell the chocolate trilogy, Onjali launched her refugee aid works for what was later to become O's Refugee Aid Team, and survived two life-saving surgeries. She went on to write The Boy at the Back of the Class in 2017 after meeting a very special baby in the refugee camps, and whilst in recovery from her second major surgery.

the boy1.png
Ted Talk.png

2019: Inspired by reactions to The Boy at the Back of the Class, Onjali gave her first TedxTalk at Southbank Centre, London, with the title, Why Children are our most Powerful Hope for Change.

book diagonal.png
MBE1.jpg

2019-2022: Following The Boy at the Back of the Class, Onjali published:

- The Day We Met the Queen (2019)

- The Star Outside My Window (2019)

- The Night Bus Hero (2020)

- The Great Food Bank Heist (2021)

- The Lion Above the Door (2021) and

- Hope on The Horizon (Wren and Rook 2022).

She also became a Writer-in-Residence for BookTrust.

2022: Onjali was nominated for an MBE for services to Women's Rights and Children's Literature in the New Year's Honours List 2022. After much debate, she accepted the award on behalf of all who nominated her, her great-grandfather, and her Supremely Awesome Mum. She received the award from Prince William, dressed in the colours of her beloved nani's wedding dress.

2023: Onjali's first ever collection of unique fairy tales written whilst travelling to different parts of the world, was released in in October 2023, making another lifelong-held dream come true...

...

More to Come (GW)
...so stay tuned!

tree roots.gif
bottom of page