PEN International

PEN International promotes literature and freedom of expression and is governed by the PEN Charter and the principles it embodies: unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations. It is a forum where writers meet freely to discuss their work; it is also a voice speaking out for writers silenced in their own countries. Today, PEN International is composed of 149 centers in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and the Americas with a total membership of approximately 15,000.

PEN International was founded in London in 1921 in the aftermath of World War I. The founder, Catharine Amy Dawson Scott, was convinced that if the writers of the world could reach out to each other, then the nations of the world could eventually learn to do the same. She was joined by eminent writers of her day, including Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw, and John Galsworthy, PEN International's first president. The early founders of PEN International realized that the freedom of the individual writer must be protected if a worldwide community of letters were to thrive. Years before Amnesty International was founded, PEN International was working for the release of writers around the world who were prisoners of conscience.

If you wish to become a member of PEN Center USA, click here to learn more.