Freedom to read, freedom to write
International PEN – which stands for “Poets, Essayists and Novelists” – was founded in 1921 by English novelist Amy Dawson Scott. Its first president was John Galsworthy, and early members included J.M. Barrie, G.K. Chesterton, Rebecca West, Robert Frost, H.G. Wells, Joseph Conrad and George Bernard Shaw.
(Photo montage: Zoë Rodriguez, President of Sydney PEN; academic and author Dennis Altman, one of PEN’s 2014 Free Voices lecturers; and artist Silke Raetze with her contribution to the PEN Empty Chairs Project, in which 15 leading Australian artists created chairs exploring the message of the Empty Chair, which PEN uses to symbolise writers imprisoned and censored).
Sydney PEN was founded in 1931 by Ethel Turner, Mary Gilmore, and Dorothea Mackellar. PEN centres spread rapidly across the world and today there are local centres throughout Asia and the South Pacific, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America.
Sydney PEN, an affiliate of PEN International, is an association of Australian writers and readers, publishers and human rights activists. We interpret the PEN Charter as being open to all those who support the work of writers, editors and translators. Current or prospective members can read our Statement of Objects and download our Constitution, most recently amended in 2005.
Each year Sydney PEN presents a series of lectures, “Free Voices” with outstanding contributors presenting a contribution to the subject of Freedom of Expression.
The lectures can be found in the PEN Magazines by clicking on the “Pen Magazine” button above.
Sydney PEN’s Writers in Prison works with International PEN to select the urgent regional cases that feature in our public advocacy campaigns. We prepare letters to relevant individuals which can be printed, signed and posted by anyone who cares about freedom to read and write.
Join Sydney PEN
By joining Sydney PEN you will be supporting the work of an historical Australian organisation, with a focus on advocating for these rights in our Asian and Pacific region.
Membership of International PEN is through Sydney PEN, its local centre. Membership is open to all who subscribe…
About Sydney PEN
PEN International, the worldwide association of writers, emphasises the role of literature in mutual understanding and world culture; and promotes literature in various ways, including opposing restraints on freedom of expression and working to promote literacy itself. Today International PEN has 144 centres in 102 countries across the globe, and is a powerful voice on behalf of writers harassed, imprisoned and sometimes murdered because of the words they write. Sydney PEN, an affiliate of PEN International, is an association of Australian writers and readers, publishers and human rights activists.
Above: International PEN President John Ralston Saul speaks to PEN Sydney.
Richard Ackland delivers ‘Feeling the Chill’, the PEN 2015 Free Voices lecture, on the impact of counter terrorism laws and surveillance on writers, journalists and freedom of expression. A columnist…
This has been a dire 12 months for the state of press freedom in Australia — for journalists, for the communities we serve and for sources that trust us to…