PEN South Africa, founded in 1927, is one of more than 140 Centres of PEN International, which currently operate in over 100 countries. A worldwide, politically non-aligned organisation of writers, PEN International is dedicated to promoting freedom of expression, and encouraging the growth and strengthening of literature. Its foundational text is the PEN Charter, which all Centres and members of PEN must uphold.
PEN SA’s President is Nadia Davids. You can see our staff and Board profiles here.
At its establishment in 1921 by the English writer Catherine Amy Dawson Scott, PEN stood for “Poets, Essayists, and Novelists”. Now, as a leading moral voice within the world of literature, PEN brings together writers of all forms – including novelists, historians, editors, playwrights, critics, translators, editors, journalists and screenwriters – in a common co-operative concern for the craft of writing, along with a commitment to advancing freedom of expression and the unhampered transmission of thought. To these ends, PEN operates through its International Centres on six continents, while PEN International itself constitutes the representative body for literature at UNESCO and the United Nations.
PEN SA’s advocacy has changed over the decades to reflect the changes in South Africa, and today is open to writers not only from or living in South Africa, but all states of the Southern African Development Community
While PEN SA’s primary concern is advocacy, we also encourage our members to view the development of literacy in our country as a part of their activism, and will promote our members’ support of literacy projects and initiatives to this end.
We welcome new members. Find out more about becoming a Professional or Supporter Member of PEN South Africa here.