Editor, writer, broadcaster, and literary critic Margaret Busby has been appointed President of English PEN, taking over the role from author and human rights lawyer Philippe Sands KC.
Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, Margaret Busby CBE, Hon. FRSL, became Britain’s youngest and first Black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. An editor, writer, broadcaster, and critic, she has also judged numerous literary prizes, including the Booker. She edited the pioneering volumes Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writing by Women of African Descent (1992) and in 2019 New Daughters of Africa, which also initiated a scholarship for African women at SOAS University of London.
Margaret Busby said:
I am delighted to take on the role of President of English PEN, an organisation supported by a vital community of writers and readers who, together, champion and celebrate courage in literature in all forms. It is an honour to join forces with the 100-year-old PEN movement, to play a part in continuing its legacy of promoting and advancing freedom of expression. Together with our colleagues in the global network of PEN centres and English PEN members, I look forward to helping enable the full potential of literature worldwide, with equality of opportunity for all. Freedom to write. Freedom to read.
Philippe Sands said:
It has been a privilege and an honour to serve as President of English PEN for the past five years, working with a fantastic team, and the worldwide PEN movement, part of the vital effort to protect and promote freedom of expression for all writers and readers, more important than ever in our times. I am thrilled and delighted to pass the baton to editor and writer Margaret Busby, a remarkable, inspiring and distinguished figure who has transformed literature in the UK, and will surely be a fabulous President.
Ruth Borthwick, Chair of Trustees, said:
Margaret Busby has always stood up for writers. For over fifty years she has blazed a trail as a publishing pioneer who has changed the landscape in British publishing. Her ability to spot talent that others deny and her persistence to see it recognised have shaped her life’s work. Her humanity touches everyone who meets her. I can think of no better person to be our new President.