Raficq Abdulla, Acting President
Raficq Abdulla is a lawyer, business consultant, writer, poet, and broadcaster. He was awarded an MBE in 1999 for his interfaith work between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He has written and published on art, poetry, spirituality and identity, and has written and presented programmes on Islam and poetry for BBC World Service radio, including The Four Caliphs; Rumi; Attar’s The Conference of the Birds; a series on the life of The Prophet Muhammad; and a programme based on an anthology he produced on the erotic underpinning of much of spirituality entitled Sex and the Soul.
He has performed his own poetry and his interpretations of Rumi and Attar at various poetry festivals, including Dartington and Ledbury. Among his publications are Words of Paradise: Selected poems of Rumi, and The Conference of the Birds: Selected Sufi Poetry of Farid ud-Din Attar. Raficq has written respectively the dialogue and screenplay for the Channel 4 films Blood of Hussein and Born of Fire. He has been trustee of the Poetry Society and Planet Poetry.
Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator, with some thirty books to his name. He is the author of a number of works of non-fiction, the translator of novels by writers including José Eduardo Agualusa, José Luís Peixoto and María Dueñas and non-fiction by Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago and Brazilian footballer Pelé, and editor of a number of reference books. He has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (with his translation of Agualusa’s The Book of Chameleons) and a Blue Peter Book Award (for The Ultimate Book Guide, the first in his series of reading guides for children and teenagers), and judged a number of prizes including the IFFP and the Booktrust Teenage Prize.
He is currently chair of the Translators Association and interim director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, on the boards of Arcadia Books and Pop Up Projects, on the councils of Shakespeare’s Globe and Human Rights Watch, and on a number of other boards and committees. He is 37 and lives in Brighton.
Rachel Holmes is the author of The Hottentot Venus: The life and death of Saartjie Baartman and The Secret Life of Dr James Barry. She is the co-editor – with Lisa Appignanesi and Susie Orbach – of Fifty Shades of Feminism. With Josie Rourke& Chris Haydon, she was co-commissioning editor of Sixty Six Books: 21st Century Writers Speak to the King James Bible. Her biography of Eleanor Marx is published by Bloomsbury in 2014.
Between writing books, Rachel directed the Southbank Centre Literature and Spoken Word programme; was part of the original launch team of Amazon.co.uk; co-founder of UK Friends of the Treatment Action Campaign (FoTAC), fighting for affordable treatment for HIV-AIDS in South Africa, and in a previous academic life she held lectureships in English Literature at London University and Sussex University. She has been recurring Writer in Residence at the PALFEST Palestine Writing Workshop in the West Bank, and visiting lecturer at the Ndifuna Ukwazi Fellowship Programme for active citizenship and leadership in South Africa. Rachel sits on the British Council Arts Advisory Group and the Association of Oxfam GB. In 2010 Rachel received an Arts Council cultural leadership award as one of Britain’s Fifty Women to Watch.
Amanda Hopkinson has been active in Human Rights and literature throughout her life. She joined Amnesty International whilst still at school, on the recommendation of Norman Lewis. On graduating from university she went to work for AI in Latin America. Much of her writing has been concerned with and for, and influenced by publications on, human rights and freedom of expression. The first full-length translation she worked on was Ernesto Sabato’s Never Again published by Faber in 1986. She also contributed, through writing, translating and editing, regularly to Index on Censorship magazine.She has continued to have translations published, her latest being of Ricardo Piglia’s Money to Burn (Granta, 2003).
As an academic, she has been involved in establishing both Swansea and Norwich as ‘cities of refuge’, offering a haven to refugee writers. She has long supported the goals of PEN, a founding and enthusiastic member of the new PEN ‘Writers in Translation’ committees, in the US and UK, and she recently served as the Chair of the English one.
Catriona Jarvis is a retired judge of the Upper Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber, having been a judge for 21 years, deciding refugee, human rights and immigration appeals. Prior to this, she was a legal aid lawyer in the fields of immigration, asylum and human rights, children’s law and mental health. She is the Rapporteur of the Vulnerable Persons Working Party, International Association of Refugee Law Judges.
Nicolas started his career at Liverpool Playhouse in 1967 as an ABC TV trainee regional theatre director. In 1970 he became Artistic Director of the Watermill Theatre, from 1970-72 Associate Director of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh and from 1976-81 Administrative Director of The Oxford Playhouse Company. From 1984-2012 he was Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre in London.
He has directed productions in over 100 theatres around the world including the West End and New York; as well as for notable companies in the United Kingdom including The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court, The Donmar Warehouse, The Hampstead Theatre, the Lyric Hammersmith, The Young Vic and at the National Theatre.
He has also directed many plays in the USA both regionally and in New York, on television for the BBC both on Television and Radio. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters at Westminster University in 2008, and was made the first Freeman of the Borough of Brent in 2012.
Barry Kernon, Honorary Treasurer
Barry is a Chartered Accountant who has been in private practice since 1972. For some 16 years he headed his own firm, Kernon & Co, until he joined H W Fisher & Company as a consultant when the two firms merged in 2002. Barry acts for a great many authors, journalists and others in the media world, and is an acknowledged expert in the tax treatment of individuals in the creative industries. He also advises many smaller business operating in a wide variety of sectors.
David joined the Rogers, Coleridge & White literary agency in 1990, first working as the receptionist and becoming a director in 1997. He served as Treasurer of the Association of Author’s Agents and, in 2008, was awarded the Orion Publishing Group Literary Agent of the Year Awards.
He has been an advisor to the Literature Department of the British Council as well as the Creative Writing course at Edinburgh Napier University and is the author of a short novel, TODAY (Atlantic). He lives in west London with his wife and their two children.
Philippe Sands QC is Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for International Courts and Tribunals at University College, London. He is a practising barrister and co-founder of Matrix Chambers, acting in cases before the English courts and international courts and tribunals, including the International Court of Justice. He is the author of Lawless World (2005) and Torture Team (2008) and contributes regularly to the New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair and The Guardian.
Ros Schwartz has been a translator from French for 30 years and has more than 60 works of fiction and non-fiction to her name. She is particularly interested in bringing the writing of African and North-African Francophone authors to the English-reading public and has translated novels by Andrée Chedid, Aziz Chouaki, Fatou Diome, Yasmina Khadra, Ousmane Sembène and Fettouma Touati. She is Chair of the Writers in Translation Committee and is committed to helping broaden the readership for international literature.
She and Amanda Hopkinson won the 2008 Duncan Lawrie International Dagger for their translation of Dominique Manotti’s Lorraine Connection. Ros was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2009 in recognition of her translation work.
Ellah Wakatama Allfrey was Deputy Editor of Granta magazine for four years. Before joining Granta, she was Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House. Now working as an independent editor and critic, Ellah is Chair of the 2014 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. She serves as deputy chair of the Council of the Caine Prize for African Writing and sits on the board of the Writers’ Centre, Norwich.
Her journalism has appeared in the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Observer and she is a regular contributor to the book pages of NPR. A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Ellah was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to the publishing industry. She is on Twitter: @epwa66
Philip Gwyn Jones
Philip Gwyn Jones has been an editor and publisher for 25 years. He spent 15 years at HarperCollins, 8 of them as Publisher of Flamingo, before leaving to found the independent house Portobello Books in late 2004, with the backing of philanthropist Sigrid Rausing, a year later acquiring and integrating Granta Books. He left Granta/Portobello in 2013.
He was the first editor to bring British readers writers such as Katherine Boo, Jenny Erpenbeck, Edward Hollis, Naomi Klein, Jhumpa Lahiri, Patrick Ness, and Arundhati Roy. Philip served for 3 years on PEN’s Writers in Translation Committee. He also serves as a Trustee of the Royal Literary Fund.
Nikita Lalwani was born in Rajasthan, India, and raised in Cardiff. After spending 10 years in factual television, principally for the BBC, she turned her attention to writing. Her first novel Gifted was short-listed for the Costa First Novel Award and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
She has written on human rights and data protection issues of people suffering from HIV/AIDS in India, in the anthology Aids Sutra. In 2008 she won the Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction and donated the £10,000 prize money to Liberty. For the past three years, Nikita has been part of Liberty’s policy council.
Charlie King has spent his career in book publishing as a marketing specialist, working closely with writers to help bring
their work to readers. After spells at Hodder & Stoughton and Pan Macmillan, he is currently Marketing Director at Little, Brown Book Group.
Charlie is extremely proud to serve as a trustee of English PEN, and is particularly interested in advising PEN on communications strategy and on financial and management matters.
Claire Armitstead is books editor for the Guardian and the Observer, charged with safeguarding the two newspapers’ literary heritage while overseeing the transition to a unified digital-first operation. She was literary editor for the Guardian from 1999-2010, and arts editor from 1995-1999.
During her two years in the job, she has pioneered new ways of championing literature online. Over the last year she has worked closely with the British Council and the Edinburgh International Book Festival to bring the World Writers’ Conference to the widest possible audience. She presents the Guardian books podcast and is a regular speaker on literature on radio and at public events.
Geraldine Proudler is a media lawyer. She has been defending freedom of expression since the early 1980s when she qualified as a solicitor and began acting for the Guardian. She has acted in a number of high-profile cases, including defending the Guardian against libel claims by Stoke Newington police officers alleged to be corrupt, and Jonathan AItken MP who sued the Guardian when he was a Cabinet Minister over allegations of accepting benefits from Saudi princes.
She was a Trustee of the Scott Trust, which owns and protects the Guardian, for 11 years, before standing down in 2013.
Honorary Vice-Presidents of English PEN:
Lady Rachel Billington; William Boyd; Dame A.S. Byatt CBE; Margaret Drabble CBE; Lady Antonia Fraser CBE; Victoria Glendinning CBE; Ronald Harwood CBE; Sir Michael Holroyd CBE; Ben Okri CBE; Josephine Pullein-Thompson MBE; Sir Tom Stoppard CBE; Claire Tomalin; Raleigh Trevelyan.