English PEN

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English PEN is the founding centre of PEN International, the worldwide writers’ association. Established in 1921, the organisation promotes freedom of expression and literature across frontiers.[1] English PEN is a registered charity in England & Wales, and is governed by a board of trustees that is elected from and by members. The current President of English PEN is Philippe Sands. The Director is Jo Glanville.


Antony Gormley's Witness, on the piazza of the British Library, London

A cast-iron sculpture entitled Witness, commissioned by English PEN to mark their 90th anniversary and created by Antony Gormley, stands outside the British Library in London. It depicts an empty chair, and is inspired by the symbol used for thirty years by English PEN to represent imprisoned writers around the world. The memorial was unveiled on 13 December 2011.[2]

Presidents of the English PEN Centre[edit]

English PEN Centre presidents
John Galsworthy 1921–32
H.G. Wells 1932–36
J.B. Priestley 1937
Henry W. Nevinson 1938
Margaret Storm Jameson 1939–44
Desmond MacCarthy 1945–50
Veronica Wedgwood 1951–57
Richard Church 1958
Alan Pryce-Jones 1959–61
Rosamond Lehmann 1962–66
L. P. Hartley 1967–70
V.S. Pritchett 1971–75
Kathleen Nott 1975
Stephen Spender 1976–77
Lettice Cooper 1977–78
Francis King 1979–85
Michael Holroyd 1986–87
Antonia Fraser 1988–90
Ronald Harwood 1990–93
Josephine Pullein-Thompson 1994–97
Rachel Billington 1998–2000
Victoria Glendinning 2001–03
Alastair Niven 2004–07
Lisa Appignanesi 2008–2010
Gillian Slovo 2010–13
Raficq Abdulla (acting president) 2013–14
Maureen Freely 2014–


External links[edit]