Antonia Byatt appointed English PEN director

Antonia Byatt appointed English PEN director

Antonia Byatt has been appointed permanent director of English PEN. 

Byatt has secured the role following her stint as interim director since August last year when Jo Glanville stepped down after serving for four years.

Prior to joining English PEN, Byatt worked as the director of Cheltenham Literature Festival 2016 and director of Literature at Arts Council England. 

Maureen Freely, chair of English PEN, welcomed Byatt as someone who had already proven herself capable of providing "expert and inspiring leadership" to the organisation.

"My fellow trustees and I are delighted to be able to appoint such an influential and effective person as the new director of English PEN," said Freely. "Over the past few months Antonia has provided us with expert and inspiring leadership, steering us through a series of flagship literary events, campaigns for writers at risk, and essential funding applications. As we look forward to a series of major events and consultations in the second half of 2018, I know the organisation is in good hands."

Byatt, who steps into the role ahead of the organisation's centenary in 2021, said: "I am thrilled and honoured to have the chance to take English PEN forward towards its centenary in 2021. Not only is PEN an extraordinary membership organisation for writers helping other writers at risk, it champions new and significant voices from across the world, particularly through translation. I am looking forward to being part of the committed international network of PEN centres who work for writers and readers alike."

Philippe Sands, president of English PEN, added English PEN’s advocacy for freedom of expression had "never been more essential" in what he called "an increasingly polarised world". He added: "Working in the UK and beyond, English PEN has an important role to play for the future, and I look forward to working closely with Antonia as we move toward 2021 and a true celebration of PEN’s centenary."