About Us

International PEN was founded in 1921 in the aftermath of World War One, with the aim of promoting fellowship and co-operation between writers. Scottish PEN was founded six years later, initiated by Hugh MacDiarmid and supported by many of the leading writers of the time.

Over the years PEN has evolved into a dynamic global organisation committed to campaigning for writers under threat and supporting cross-cultural exchange. Scottish PEN has been growing steadily and welcomes new members – click Join Scottish PEN for information on how to join.

‘All my experience as a woman of Scottish background leads me to believe that the principles of PEN are especially natural to the Scottish character, with its independent-mindedness, its will to sincerity in public affairs, its sense of our being unquestionably born free.’

The late Muriel Spark, honorary member of Scottish PEN

Scottish PEN’s international role

Scottish PEN plays an important role at International PEN’s annual congress and at the conferences that focus on the different aspects of PEN activity. In 2008 we hosted in Glasgow International PEN’s Writers in Prison conference, which brought together writers from all over the world. A key feature of Scottish PEN is the development of international connections and exchange.

Scottish PEN in Scotland

Events are organised throughout the year in different parts of Scotland. Regular highlights include the annual Scottish PEN lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and the annual Naomi Mitchison Memorial Lecture at the University of Glasgow.

Scottish PEN initiates projects and works with other Scottish literature organisations to promote writing and reading in Scotland. Click on Scottish Writers to find out more.

Scottish PEN is run by an executive committee which meets about six times a year. Elections are held at the annual general meeting, usually in September. There are six main areas of activity: click on Writers in Prison, Writers in Exile, Women Writers, Writers for Peace, Writers in Translation, Writers in Education to find out more.