The charity is overseen by our board of trustees, elected by the membership of English PEN
Maureen Freely, President
Maureen Freely is an author, journalist, translator and academic, who has written seven novels, as well as non-fiction. She is professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick and the director of its writing programme. Her novel Sailing through Byzantium was named as one of the best novels of 2014 in both the TLS and the Sunday Times, and she has translated five books by the Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk. She is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Maureen has worked closely with English PEN over the past 15 years, with a particular focus on freedom of expression in Turkey: she has taken part in fact-finding missions and attended many trials, as well as speaking out for writers at risk.
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.
Tina’s varied work has included teaching literature, education management, and over 20 years political and parliamentary experience representing the interests of, variously, academics, consumers, and local authorities at national level. A former non- executive director of a London Health Authority, she is a trained teacher and qualified counsellor. Tina has most recently stepped down as director and chair of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which gives grants to organisations campaigning to defend civil liberties, and achieve progressive political and social change and democratic reform. She is a Quaker and has served in many roles, including that of a Quaker Prison Chaplain.
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.
Cathy has spent most of her career immersed in books initially working in publishing (Hobson’s Press, Longman, Dorling Kindersley), then bookselling (Waterstones, Heffers) and currently a Literary Festival. She was founder of Cambridge Wordfest in 2003 and since then has programmed over 1000 events. In 2013 the festival became a charity and in 2014 underwent a successful transition to Cambridge Literary Festival which stages two festivals each year plus numerous one-off events. Cathy looks forward to advising English PEN with marketing, fundraising and event curation.
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.
Shazea is a Pakistani-Canadian poet, playwright and translator based in London, and author of two poetry collections: The Art of Scratching (Bloodaxe Books, 2015) and The Courtesans Reply (flipped eye publishing, 2012).
Since 2010, she has worked with English PEN’s outreach programme in prisons, refugee centres and schools, and was on the Readers and Writers Advisory Committee from 2012 to 2014. She also teaches with Translators in Schools and The Poetry School, and works with Living Words as a Writer in Residence in care homes with people experiencing dementia.
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.
Samantha Schnee translates from Spanish; her most recent translation is of Mexican author Carmen Boullosa’s novel Texas: The Great Theft. She is the founding editor of WordsWithoutBorders.org, the online magazine of writing from around the world, which has published over 2,000 stories, poems, and excerpts from novels—translated from over 100 languages—since it launched in 2003. She currently chairs WWB’s board of directors. Samantha is a member of the management committee of the Translators’ Association at the Society of Authors and has been deeply involved in the development of the Literary Translators’ Centre at the London Book Fair, International Translation Day, and other initiatives serving the translation community. She currently edits the British Centre for Literary Translation’s biannual journal, ‘In Others Words’. Born in the UK and raised in the US, she has lived in London since 2009.
Honorary Vice-Presidents of English PEN
Lady Rachel Billington; William Boyd; Dame A.S. Byatt CBE; Margaret Drabble CBE; Lady Antonia Fraser CBE; Rick Gekoski; Victoria Glendinning CBE; Ronald Harwood CBE; Sir Michael Holroyd CBE; Ben Okri CBE; Sir Tom Stoppard CBE; Claire Tomalin.