Antonia Byatt appointed English PEN interim director

Antonia Byatt appointed English PEN interim director

English PEN has appointed Antonia Byatt, director of 2016's Cheltenham Literature Festival, to step in as its interim director from 3rd July. 

She will be working closely initially with English PEN's outgoing director Jo Glanville "for the better part of a month" to ensure a "smooth and productive" handover. 

Glanville announced that she was stepping down earlier this month after being awarded an honorary visiting fellowship at the Gießen University in Germany. She leaves her post in July after four years.

Byatt was director of Cheltenham Literature Festival 2016 and previously was director, Literature and SE, at Arts Council England based in Cambridge. Before joining Arts Council England, she was director of the Women’s Library at London Metropolitan University, an academic research library and cultural centre containing the largest collection of women’s history in the UK. Prior to joining the library, she was head of literature at Southbank Centre, which involved overseeing the literature programme and the poetry library. She has been a trustee of the Bishopsgate Institute and Buckinghamshire New University and is currently a trustee of First Story.

Maureen Freely, president of English PEN, welcomed Byatt to the role, saying English PEN were "thrilled" to have her on board. "We cannot think of anyone better placed to continue the fine work of our outgoing director, thus ensuring the good health of our charity as we move towards our centenary," she said.

Byatt said: "I am very much looking forward to working with PEN over the next few months. I have always admired PEN’s work and programmes and am proud to be able to contribute to an organisation that has such value for writers and readers."

Glanville, director of English PEN, said: "As former director of literature at Arts Council England, and with a distinguished career in the sector, Antonia Byatt brings a wealth of expertise to English PEN, which will benefit the charity greatly and enable the team to continue essential work supporting literature and freedom of expression."

English PEN's Arts Council England National Portfolio funding was renewed earlier this week. The grant is for a total of £919,936 over four years, maintaining the existing grant of £229,984 per year. According to English PEN, a "substantial proportion" of this will go towards its Writers in Translation programme, which gives grants to publishers to pay for translations costs for books coming into English.