He was born in Ogidi, Nigeria and attended University College in Ibadan (at the time a college of the University of London, now the University of Ibadan), where he studied English, history and theology. He later studied broadcasting at the BBC and became the first Director of External Broadcasting at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in 1961. During the civil war, he worked for the Biafran government as an ambassador, an experience that inspired him to write the poem "Refugee Mother and Child."
Achebe is considered the father of the African novel in English as well as one of the world's most acclaimed writers. His modern African classic Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, has sold over 10 million copies around the world and exists in fifty languages. Things Fall Apart has appeared on numerous lists of the 100 greatest novels of all time published in Norway (Norwegian Book Club), England (Guardian and Observer), America (Radcliffe Publishing Course list of top 100 novels of the 20th century) and Africa (Africa’s Best Books of the 20th Century).
Achebe is the recipient of over thirty honorary degrees from universities in England, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States, including Harvard (1996), Brown (1998), Dartmouth (1972), Southampton, Guelph (Canada), Cape Town (2002) and the University of Ife (Nigeria). In 2002 he was awarded the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
Achebe was the founding editor of the African Writers Series published by Heinemann, a body of work that has emerged as a cornerstone of postcolonial literature, and was instrumental in introducing the world to new writing from Africa.
He has served as founding editor of Okike - an African journal of new writing, Uwa ndi Igbo - an Igbo language journal of poetry and literary criticism, publisher of The African Commentary, President of the Ogidi Town Union, Prochancellor of the Anambra State University of Technology and Deputy National President of the Peoples Redemption Party of Nigeria. In 2004, Professor Achebe declined to accept the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) - Nigeria's second highest honor - in protest of the state of affairs in his native country.
Achebe has received numerous awards for his work, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the New Statesman Jock Campbell Prize, and the Margaret Wrong Prize.
- Things Fall Apart, 1958
- No Longer at Ease, 1960
- The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories, 1962
- Arrow of God, 1964
- A Man of the People, 1966
- Chike and the River, 1966
- Beware, Soul-Brother, and Other Poems, 1971
- How the Leopard Got His Claws (with John Iroaganachi), 1972
- Girls at War and Other Stories, 1973
- Christmas at Biafra, and Other Poems, 1973
- Morning Yet on Creation Day, 1975
- The Flute, 1975
- The Drum, 1978
- The Trouble With Nigeria, 1984
- African Short Stories (editor, with C.L. Innes), 1985
- Anthills of the Savannah, 1988
- Hopes and Impediments, 1988
- Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories (editor, with C.L. Innes), 1992
- Another Africa, 1998
- Home and Exile, 2000
- Collected Poems, 2004
See also: List of African writers