Florence Given Responds To Chidera Eggerue's Claims That She Copied Her Book
In a series of Instagram stories, Florence addresses the criticism.
Earlier in the week Chidera Eggerue (The Slumflower) accused Florence Given of copying her 2018 book, What a Time To Be Alone. The controversy caused a hot debate on Twitter and after a couple of days, Given uploaded a detail response to her Instagram stories.
She began by saying “Hi everyone! I believed that what has happened here required a response not a reaction, so I wanted to take my time with this”.
She goes on to say “my book is approximately 40% original illustrations, 40% memoir material (my own lived experiences), and the other 20% is feminist theory and concepts that have existed for decades and cited throughout” seemingly addressing Eggerue’s claims that Given copied her content.
Given also addresses the racial inequality in the publishing industry: “In my book I don’t try to speak other people, I speak about my own experiences and where appropriate, I acknowledge that these experiences I face are harder for marginalised women” and later, “my acknowledgements page was dedicated to Black women for bringing my own white desirability privileges into my consciousness”.
Eggerue criticised Given for using her as inspiration without distributing some of the book’s wealth into the very community that she stole her ideas from: “black women’s ideas generate wealth for white people. But that wealth doesn’t go to our community”.
In response, Given said “Earlier this year I had already donated a significant portion of my advance to organisations that support Black liberation such as Black Minds Matter, For The Gworls, and Go-Fund-Me pages that directly support Black trans people with money for housing”.
She further denied that her publishing team promoted Women Don’t Owe You Pretty on Google when searching for Chidera’s name and urges us to critique those systems in place.
To defend her book, Florence added with “How To Get Over A Boy was published in 2020 and I handed in the final manuscript for my book in November 2019, so it was physically impossible for me to have seen her work or copy it” and “I’ve never claimed to be the first person to talk about these topics, my work builds off the canon of feminist and self help books that people have been writing for decades and adapting these concepts for a new generation of women, with my own lived experiences and artistic style”.
All in all, Given responded to every single critique that Eggerue and many Twitter users suggested. She ended her statement acknowledging the “love and gratitude for the Black women who have corrected me throughout my career and in my personal life” but stands by her book’s authenticity, “I’m proud of my book and the journey that it’s taken people on”.
Eggerue is yet to respond to Given but she did tell her Instagram stories that her now-former publisher had dropped her. She shared the email from her publisher (who she shared with Given) informing her that their contract is ending early. Eggerue claims not one person from her publishing team reached out to check on her even though they released a statement on their own claiming they “relentlessly championed the importance of her voice and believed in her work”.