Scottish PEN

smith04pic1.jpg International PEN is a worldwide writers’ organisation. Scottish PEN has been active since 1927, when it was founded by Hugh McDiarmid, Edwin and Willa Muir, Helen Cruickshank and others. Based in the Writers’ Museum, its membership comprises published writers, editors and translators.

Scottish PEN is active on many fronts. It upholds freedom of expression, campaigns for the release of writers imprisoned for their beliefs and supports translation and linguistic rights.

The 2006 Writers-in-Prison day paid homage to the murdered Russian journalist, Anna Politskayava.

International conferences provide the opportunity for cross-cultural dialogue and Glasgow hosts next year’s Writers-in-Prison conference.

Among Scottish PEN’s literary events, are: the annual PEN Lecture at the Edinburgh Book Festival – in 2006, James Meek focused on a writer and photographer imprisoned in Guantanamo; the Naomi Mitchison Memorial lecture – in 2006 Isobel Murray discussed the work of Jessie Kesson and Naomi Mitchison; and translation events, which recently resulted in two publications from Survivors Press, Exile and Between and illustrated poemcards.

In schools, the innovative Penpower project encourages debate on the role of the writer, censorship, freedom of expression and citizenship.

Currently Scottish PEN is planning towards Edinburgh becoming a City of Refuge, part of an international network of cities providing asylum for exiled writers. Marking its 80th anniversary, a banner display is being exhibited at different venues throughout Scotland and Border Crossings, a CD featuring extracts of the work of twelve PEN writers, is being distributed to secondary schools.

The Scottish PEN website includes news of its activities and carries features such as the complete text of James Meek’s PEN lecture and the moving testimony of Iyad Hayatleh, a Scottish PEN member who has been successfully granted asylum after a long campaign.

Scottish PEN, The Writers’ Museum, Lady Stair’s House, Lady Stair’s Close, Lawnmarket, EDINBURGH, EH1 2PA

The image above shows PEN members reading at ‘Women Translated by Women’ at the French Institute in 2006.


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