Literature Knows No Frontiers


The Little Prince, Don Quixote, Metamorphosis, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Holy Bible – all are translations into English with which most readers are familiar. How much would be lost to us if such writing was not so readily accessible to us? Yet so little of the UK’s literary publishing output every year consists of translated literary work. English PEN’s Writers in Translation Programme seeks to redress the balance.

We champion literature beyond national and linguistic borders and beyond conventional literary expectations.  Through our unique Writers in Translation Committee, made up from writers, translators, publishers, literary journalists, scouts and agents, we identify great writing in English translation and support both translators and publishers to get great writing in front of as many readers as possible in the Anglophone world.

English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme was established in 2005 and is supported by Bloomberg and Arts Council England.  We have two main strands to the programme, PEN Promotes, which awards grants to UK publishers to help promote, market and champion titles that have been translated into English and PEN Translates, which awards grants to fund the translation costs of literature into English.

All of our award-winning titles are featured on the World Bookshelf, an online gateway to the very best in contemporary literature in translation.

In addition to our grant-giving programmes, we run campaigns, advocacy programmes and events to encourage literature in translation.  Every September we mark International Translation Day with an annual conference.  In 2011 we published our Global Translation Initiative report with Free Word and Dalkey Archive Press.

“There are not words enough in my countless dictionaries to express my admiration for PEN’s Writers in Translation programme. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to have several projects supported by the programme and know the vital role WiT plays supporting publishers, facilitating visits and organising events by foreign authors and tirelessly promoting the visibility of translators and world literature”. 

Frank Wynne, Award Winning Literary Translator

The Writers in Translation Committee

Chair: Samantha Schnee (editor, translator)

Rose Cole (Bookseller), Ben Faccini (writer), Miranda France (writer, translator), Catheryn Kilgarriff (publisher), Max Porter (commissioning editor), Fathieh Saudi (poet), Rebecca Servadio (literary scout), Rachel Van Riel (reader development), Shaun Whiteside (translator)

Latest Translation News

PEN Atlas: Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel on the languages of Africa

PEN Atlas: Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel on the languages of Africa

December 18th, 2014

Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel writes from Equatorial Guinea about local literature and languages of farawaRead more

PEN Atlas: writers recommend best books in translation for Christmas

PEN Atlas: writers recommend best books in translation for Christmas

December 12th, 2014

Roasting chestnuts on an open fire, taking the first whiff of mulled wine, and cracking open a greatRead more

‘Important, Invigorating, Mind-altering’ – a word from the translator with Clare Pollard

'Important, Invigorating, Mind-altering' - a word from the translator with Clare Pollard

December 9th, 2014

English PEN talks to the translators of some of our award-winning books. Here, we talk to Clare PollRead more