This photograph shows a case from the British Library’s West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song exhibition (2015-16). It illustrates the power of Things fall apart, Achebe’s 1958 classic novel, which attained international acclaim and was a powerful inspiration for African literary writing in English.

In the case, the first edition of the novel (published by Heinemann) sits together with the reprint of 1962, which was the first book in the famous Heinemann African Writers Series. Other editions shown here include translations published in India, South Africa and Namibia, and a 50th anniversary edition published in Nigeria in 2008. The cloth hanging above was printed to commemorate Achebe after his death in 2003.