About

York PEN, or to give it its full title, the University of York’s English PEN Centre is a student-led subgroup of English PEN. Founded in 1921, and now one of the oldest human rights groups still in existence, English PEN has attracted some of the greatest writers across the 20th and 21st centuries in their campaigning for free expression – including H. G. Wells (President 1933-1936), J. B. Priestley (President 1937), Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and Monica Ali.

English PEN is the founding centre of PEN International, the worldwide fellowship of writers promoting free expression and literature across frontiers. There are 145 PEN centres in more than one hundred countries, providing an active and supportive community for writers and readers around the world. Its aim is to promote the freedom to write and the freedom to read, and the organisation campaigns for prisoners of conscience around the world who have been imprisoned for exercising these freedoms.

York PEN was founded in January 2012 with the involvement of both students and staff. Since then the society has been campaigning for imprisoned writers in different parts of the world by running bi-weekly letter-writing campaigns, signing petitions, and writing letters of appeal to government officials. The society also organises termly events, which in the past have included a poetry-reading night and a pop-up exhibition featuring censored political cartoonists, as well as panels with invited guests on free speech issues and, working alongside the English department, the talk series Prison Fictions and Human Rights.

If you’re interested in joining the society you’re very welcome to come along to one of our meetings; we meet every Tuesday during term time at 6.45 pm in D/L/049, a seminar room on campus. You can also find us on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date with what we have planned!


The committee consists of students at the University of York who coordinate the society’s work as well as oversee funding. If you have any ideas about campaigns we should be running or events we should put on, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email (yorkpen@yusu.org) or Facebook, or come to one of our meetings!

The Committee:
Madeleine and Stefan, Co-Chairs
Hollie, Secretary
Iram, Treasurer
Rosie, Campaigns & Social Media Officer
Ethan, Website Director

YorkPEN.wordpress.com is run by our Website Team. We publish writings relating to PEN’s work, on topics such as freedom of expression in Britain and abroad, issues of censorship, and literature in translation. We also publish creative pieces, and we are always looking for new writers. If you’re interested in contributing to the site, please email yorkpen@yusu.org. Please note that you do not have to be a student at the university to contribute.


In association with:

Oxford Student PEN        yhrc

Surrey Student PEN      UEL PEN        English PEN logo

  PEN International   CAHR   black-hwc-cropped


We would like to thank Seb Brixey-Williams for the design of the site, and Tim Waterson for implementing it.

Copyright © York PEN 2014, all rights reserved. This website is run by York PEN, a student society under the University of York Student Union. Please note that we do not guarantee the accuracy of the content and cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Any opinions expressed are those of our contributors, and do not reflect the views of the society or the Student Union. The society reserves the right to remove or alter content or take down the site at any moment without notice.

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