Kensal Rise novelist recognised in New Year Honours List

Dr Maggie Gee has been given an OBE

A prominent novelist and library campaigner has been recognised in the New Year Honours List.

Dr Maggie Gee, who has lived in Kensal Rise for 24 years, has been awarded an OBE for her services to literature.

The 63-year-old became the first ever female chair of the Royal Society of Literature between 2004 – 2008 and her seventh novel, The White Family, was shortlisted for the 2003 Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Telling the Times she was delighted with her OBE, she added: “I don’t know who nominated me but I work with a lot of writers so it could have been one of them or maybe because I was the first female chair for RSL.

“I am a Scorpio so it was easy to keep the news a secret plus I am working on a novel that needs to be finished by the end of January so I have been busy with that.”

Dr Gee, who has a doctorate in literature, is a member of Brent SOS Libraries group which was set up after Brent Council announced they were closing six branches in the borough earlier this year.

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She has been campaigning alongside residents to save the Kensal Rise branch, which was opened by American author Mark Twain in 1901, and Preston, Cricklewood, Tokyngton, Neasden and Barham Park libraries.

She said: “Libraries matter so much because they have books that everyone can read.

“I came from a background that was not very literate so I want my work to be available for everyone.

“Kensal Rise library matters to his community because it’s the heart of the community and everyone has worked so hard to keep it open.

So far Dr Gee has written 11 novels, a collection of short stories and a recent memoir called ‘My animal life’, a number of her works including ‘The White Family’ have been based in and around Kensal Rise as she is immensely proud of where she lived.

She said: “This is a community I love to live in and write about because it’s a community full of hope.

“It’s not about little houses it’s about the things we share.

“Kensal Rise is on the rise.”

Christopher Pemberton from Cricklewood has also been awarded an OBE for his services to heritage.

Mr Pemberton is the director of national collections for the English Heritage.

Colonel Anthony Ian Denison, the commandant of the Middlesex and North West London Army Cadets.

He was honoured for his services to children and young people.

Two residents received an MBE.

Karen Pollock from Kilburn was honoured for her services to education.

Ms Pollock is the chief executive of the Holocaust Education trust a charity that works with schools, colleges and communities across the UK to educate about the Holocaust and combat anti-Semitism.

Cricketer Umesh Valjee from Wembley was recognised for his services to Deaf Cricket.