Publishers back new PEN freedom initiative

Penguin, Hachette Livre and Random House have all joined with PEN International for the launch of the literature-championing organisation’s latest initiative, the PEN International Publishers’ Circle.

The scheme will see publishers support PEN’s work in expounding freedom of expression around the world, both through financial support and projects such as advocacy for imprisoned publishers and advising on the development of literature programmes worldwide. Publishers in the circle can contribute either $25,000 (£15,262), $15,000 or $5,000 a year.

John Makinson, Penguin Group c.e.o., said: "The right to freedom of expression, which we take for granted in the literary cultures in which most publishers work, remains in jeopardy in many countries that have both a literary heritage and a vibrant creative culture. Publishers, and writers, must play their part in extending that freedom where we can."

PEN International president John Ralston Saul said: "We hope the Publishers' Circle will expand to include publishers from around the world."

A HarperCollins spokesperson, the only publisher among the UK’s biggest four not to have signed up on launch, said it will continue to support PEN on a "country by country basis".