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PEN Presidents

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PEN International boasts a remarkable leadership and a history of involvement from acclaimed writers and advocates of free expression. Read about the people who have made, and continue to make, PEN International.

Presidents Emeritus

Homero Aridjis; Ronald Harwood; György Konrád; Mario Vargas Llosa; John Ralston Saul; Per Wästberg

Vice Presidents

PEN International is supported by the following in the capacity of Vice President:

Margaret Atwood; Niels E. Barford; Andrei Bitov; Alexandre Blokh; Sook-Hee Chun; J.M. Coetzee; Georges-Emmanuel Clancier; Moris Farhi; Gloria Guardia; Nancy Ing; Kata Kulavkova; Lucina Kathmann; Eric Lax; Joanne Leedom-Ackermann; Predrag Matvejevic; Toni Morrison; Boris A. Novak; Judith Rodriguez; Michael Scammell; Eugene Schoulgin; Vida Ognjenovic; Hori Takeaki; Franca Tiberto.

International Presidents

Founder and first President Mrs C.A. Dawson Scott

Founder Mrs C. A. Dawson Scott (centre)

Founder: Mrs C. A. Dawson Scott

Past International Presidents:

John Galsworthy 1921–33 Novelist, English, Nobel Prize in Literature (1932). Author of the Forsyte Saga.

H. G. Wells 1933–36 Novelist, English, As president he oversaw the expulsion of the German Centre during the 1933 Dobrovnik Congress.

Jules Romains 1936–41 Poet, French, l’Académie Française (1946), founder of the Unanimism literary movement.

[Wartime International Presidential Committee 1941–47]

Hu Shih 1941–47 Philosopher and Essayist, Chinese, Leader of the Vernacular Chinese movement aimed at reforming written Chinese to make it open to all readers.

Denis Saurat 1941–47 Essayist, French, Advocate of French – English cultural links.

H. G. Wells 1941–46

Hermon Ould 1941–47 Playwright and Poet, Also longtime International Secretary of PEN.

Thornton Wilder 1941–47 Playwright and Novelist, American, Pulitzer Prizes (1927, 1938, 1943).

E. M. Forster 1946–47 Novelist, English.

François Mauriac 1946–47 Novelist and Essayist, French, Nobel Prize in Literature (1952), l’Académie Française (1933).

Ignazio Silone 1946–47 Essayist, Italian.

Maurice Maeterlinck 1947–49 Symbolist, Playwright, Poet and Novelist, Belgian, Nobel Prize in Literature (1911). Author of “The Blue Bird” (1908) and Pelléas et Mélisande.

Benedetto Croce 1949–52 Philosopher, Italian, “The Philosophy of Spirit”, Italian. Civilization is the “continual vigilance” against barbarism.

Charles Morgan 1953–56 Playwright and Novelist, English (Welsh). Best known for “The Fountain” (1932).

André Chamson 1956–59 Novelist and Essayist, French, l’Académie Française (1956).

Alberto Moravia 1959–62 Novelist, Italian. Known for such novels as: “Gli Indifferenti” and “Il Conformista”.

Victor van Vriesland 1962–65 Writer, Dutch.

Arthur Miller 1965–69 Playwright and Essayist. Pulitzer Prize (1949). Principe de Asturias Prize for Literature. Known for such plays as: “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible”.

Pierre Emmanuel 1969–71 Poet, French, l’Académie Française (1968). Active in the Resistance during WWII.

Heinrich Böll 1971–74 Novelist, German, Nobel prize for Literature (1972), Georg Büchner Prize (1967). As PEN President he welcomed Alexandr Solzhenitsyn into exile and gave him first refuge in his Eifel cottage.

V. S. Pritchett 1974–76 Short story writer and Essayist, English, The Heinemann Award (1969), PEN Award (1974).

Mario Vargas Llosa 1976–79 Novelist, Peruvian, Nobel Prize for Literature (2010).

Per Wästberg 1979–86 Novelist, Poet and Essayist, Swedish, Member of the Swedish Academy (1997), Chairman of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Francis King 1986–89 Novelist, English, The Somerset Maugham Award (1951), The Katherine Mansfield Short Story Prize.

René Tavernier May – Nov 1989 Editor of la Revue « Confluences », French.

Per Wästberg (Interim) Nov 89 – May 90

György Konrád 1990–93 Novelist and Essayist, Hungarian, leading dissident during the Soviet era.

György Konrád with Alexander Blokh (photograph of Peter Elstob, PEN International Secretary) behind

György Konrád with Alexander Blokh (photograph of Peter Elstob, PEN International Secretary) behind

Ronald Harwood 1993–97
Playwright, South African/English, Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2003), The Humanitas Prize (2008). Author of “The Dresser” and “The Pianist”.

Homero Aridjis 1997–2003
Poet and Novelist, Mexican. Environmental activist, founder of El Grupo de los Cien.

Jiri Grusa 2003-2009
Poet and Novelist, Czech, leading dissident during the Soviet era.

John Ralston Saul 2009-2015
Novelist and Essayist, Canadian.

Current International President:

Jennifer Clement 2015-present
Mexican-American Author.

International Secretaries:

Marjorie Watts 1921–26
Hermon Ould 1926–51
David Carver 1951–74
Peter Elstob 1974–81
Alexandre Blokh 1981–98
Terry Carlbom 1998-2004
Joanne Leedom Ackerman 2004-2007
Eugene Schoulgin 2007-2010
Hori Takeaki 2010-present

International Treasurers:

Thilo Koch 1974–91 
Bill Barazetti 1991–96
Martyn Goff 1996–98
Jan Honout 1998–2001
Britta Junge Pederson 2001-2007
Eric Lax 2007- 2013
Jarkko Tonti 2013 – present