English PEN has named Daniel Gorman, current executive director of the Shubbak Festival, as its new director. Gorman replaces Antonia Byatt, who is leaving to become c.e.o. of First Story, an organisation bringing writers to secondary schools in low-income areas.
PEN said Byatt - who became interim director in August 2017 and was confirmed in the post in April of last year - had put the organisation on a firm financial footing during her tenure and helped prepare a programme for its centenary in 2021.
Over the past five years, Gorman has grown Shubbak to be the largest festival of Arab culture in the UK, working with writers and supporting artists in areas of conflict. He also co-founded Highlight Arts, connecting artists from countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Gorman, who joins in August, said: “I am honoured to be taking up the role of Director of English PEN – the UK's oldest free speech organisation whose work ranges from campaigning for writers at risk to supporting new opportunities for literature in translation. I look forward to working alongside the English PEN membership and the network of international PEN centres to continue and develop their vital work towards the centenary celebrations in 2021 and beyond’
Maureen Freely, chair of English PEN, said: “I am very grateful to Antonia for the hard work she has put in over the past two years laying the foundations for English PEN to respond to future opportunities and challenges for writers. Daniel is brilliantly placed to lead English PEN when the freedom of ideas has never been more important.”
English PEN has also appointed William Forrester as its new translation and international manager after Theodora Danek left to join Tilted Axis Press as co-publisher. Forrester has previously worked as a project manager with Commonwealth writers at the Commonwealth Foundation. He joins on 1st April.