English PEN to celebrate Mandela centenary with poets and activists

English PEN to celebrate Mandela centenary with poets and activists

English PEN is celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth by holding an evening of readings with writers and creatives including Ted Hughes Award-winner Jay Bernard and Makar Jackie Kay.

Taking place at the Union Chapel in London, the event is scheduled for 17th July - ahead of Mandela's birthday on 18th July and one week after the publication of The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela (Liveright) on 10th July 2018. The book features letters by Nelson Mandela from his time in prison, between 1962 and 1990, most of which have remained unpublished until now.

The letters, painting an intimate portrait of a political activist, will be read at the event by high-profile people across literature, politics, journalism and activism. They include journalist Gary Younge, poet and novelist Jackie Kay, author and academic Zoe Wicomb, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry Jay Bernard, actor and artistic director of the Young Vic theatre Kwame Kwei-Armah, and composer Errollyn Wallen.

The evening is directed and produced by actress and director Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE, who is currently co-artistic director for Riksteatern in Sweden.

They will be joined by the book’s editor Sahm Venter and Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, one of Nelson Mandela’s granddaughters who provided the foreword to the book.

Director of English PEN, Antonia Byatt, said:  “English PEN is delighted to be celebrating Nelson Mandela’s legacy of championing human rights. We are thrilled to be joined by leading writers, actors and activists to mark the significance of his years in prison in his centenary year. Today hundreds of writers languish in prison for speaking out, as Mandela did. At PEN we know communication with the outside world for prisoners is crucial; through PEN thousands of people around the world have sent letters to writers in prison to bolster their spirit and to support freedom of expression.”

Tickets to the event are priced £25 (£15 for those aged 26 and under, £75 for VIP) and available from www.unionchapel.org.uk.