PEN International is proud to announce, as part of its centenary celebrations, the launch of its Digital Archive Exhibition “Unlocking the history of PEN International” on 16th June 2021. PEN invites supporters of freedom of expression around the world to join its inauguration at 6 PM UK time. The event will take place online and will be streamed on PEN International’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
“Unlocking the history of PEN International” presents the organization’s history, milestones, setbacks and achievements over the last 100 years. The Archive Exhibition combines written, visual and oral history, and showcases over 2000 digitized documents, including letters, reports, images, videos and audio recordings featuring the work of PEN International and 90 PEN Centres since 1921, providing extensive material for research and campaigning.
“In honouring PEN International’s centenary, it was important to create a space for every PEN centre to tell their story. In spite of the fact that PEN’s global membership stands under a common mission, the individual history of each centre is unique. The PEN Archive is a record of PEN and is also the extraordinary story of a group of writers worldwide who for one hundred years stood together, often against all odds, to protect freedom of expression and celebrate literature”. Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International.
As PEN International celebrates its centenary alongside English PEN, its first ever Centre, the archive collection is an opportunity to share the role played by the PEN movement and to celebrate writers, supporters, activists and all those who, over the last 100 years, spoke truth to power, those who called on governments to uphold the right to freedom of expression, and those who worked to give a voice to writers silenced across regions.
“The exhibition provides a unique record of the evolution of PEN, from its inception as a writers’ club in London to the globally recognised writers’ association and human rights organisation it is today. It is the online heart of PEN’s heritage, celebrating its past, inspiring its present and shaping its future. It also marks a first step in the creation of a more extensive collection which will grow over time, as PEN moves towards its next 100 years”. Ginevra Avalle, Archives Collection Manager and Curator of the Exhibition.
Founded in London in 1921 by the English writer Catherine Amy Dawson Scott, PEN stands for the principles of unhampered transmission of thought and free speech. The organization advocates for the role played by literature in transforming lives and societies, while campaigning on behalf of those who are detained or otherwise persecuted for their opinions expressed in writing.
“I believe the Digital Archive Exhibition is a treasure for PEN members, supporters, researchers and advocates and will give inspiration and strength to our campaigns to protect freedom of expression”. Carles Torner, Centenary Director.
The inauguration of PEN International’s Digital Archive Exhibition, on 16th June at 6 PM UK time, takes place on the last day of the International Archives Week, where organizations worldwide share their events and celebrate the importance of archives and archivists. It will feature key speakers including three PEN Presidents: Jennifer Clement, PEN International, Ayad Akhtar, PEN America, and Philippe Sands, English PEN. For a full programme and list of speakers, and to register, please click here.
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