Gwen Ansell was born in 1948 in Manchester in the UK. Educated at a solidly radical local grammar school and Oxford University (where she studied PPE), she trained as an adult educator and taught in the UK further & higher education sectors for ten years and wrote freelance.

Parallel to that, though, she had been involved in organising and promoting South African jazz in London, after a mind-blowing first musical encounter with Dudu Pukwana and Mongezi Feza at the Oxford University Jazz Society.

She arrived in Botswana in 1983 to take up work at the University and decided to stay, working as a journalist and a member of the Medu Arts Ensemble. She subsequently worked with the ANC Department of Arts & Culture in Zambia and Zimbabwe. She came to South Africa in 1991 as deputy editor of Africa South & East magazine.

Since then, she has worked as a journalist (jazz columnist for various publications including the M&G and currently for Business Day) and a media educator. From 2001-2003 she was Executive Director of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism. She has written several training books, most recently Introduction to Journalism (2nd edn Jacana 2005) and is also the author of Soweto Blues: Jazz, Popular Music and Politics in South Africa (Continuum 2005), which was a finalist for the 2005 ARSC Awards in the USA and has just been reissued in paperback.

Gwen currently works as a freelance writer and media trainer/consultant. She serves on the committees of New Music SA and the South African Association of Jazz Educators,  on the Education and Training Sub-Committee of the South African National Editors Forum and on the Print Media Standards Generating Body of the MAPPP-SETA