The idea of the series came from Heinemann executive Alan Hill, who "recognised that the nascent post-colonial publishing industry was not supporting the growth of original African literature".   The first advisory editor to the series was the Nigerian Chinua Achebe – who became one of Africa's most famous writers. Achebe focused first on West African writers, but soon the series branched out, publishing the works of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in East Africa , and Nadine Gordimer in South Africa . Achebe left the editorship in 1972. James Currey, the editorial director at Heinemann Educational Books in charge of the African Writers Series from 1967 to 1984, has provided a book-length treatment of the series entitled Africa Writes Back .