Who We Are
‘In times of division between countries, PEN International is one of the rare institutions to keep a bridge constantly open.’ Mario Vargas Llosa
PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now numbers more than 20,000 and spans more than 100 countries. Our programmes, campaigns, events and publications aim to connect writers and readers wherever they are in the world.
We are poets, playwrights, essayists, editors and novelists – from which the original acronym for our name was taken – as well as translators, academics, publishers, journalists and Internet writers. In fact, we are everyone who works with the written and spoken word, and who believes that the right to read and write is vital to the well-being of any community.
Our members have always included well-known writers such as:
Chinua Achebe; Margaret Atwood; Isabel Allende; Aung San Suu Kyi; Josef Brodsky; J. M. Coetzee; Joseph Conrad; Anatole France; Nadine Gordimer; Vaclav Havel; Hu Shih; Danilo Kiš; Halldor Laxness; Liu Xiaobo; Mario Vargas Llosa; Amin Maalouf; François Mauriac; Naguib Mahfouz; Thomas Mann; Arthur Miller; Czesław Miłosz; Alberto Moravia; Toni Morrison; Kenzaburo Oe; Harold Pinter; Salman Rushdie
… to name just a few!
PEN members include writers who are just embarking on their literary journeys as well as winners of the Cervantes, Goncourt, Man Booker, Nobel, Pulitzer and Renaudot Prizes, among others.
Yet we derive our strength as an organisation from all members equally, whether they can claim a wall of world-class awards or a single poem in a local publication; cultivating relationships between established and new writers alike is crucial to the vitality of PEN International.
Regardless of where we are in the world, what language we speak or what culture we’re from, members all share the same values and unite behind the PEN Charter, to speak out for – and celebrate – literature in all its forms.
PEN International is pleased to be partnered with the following organisations: