About PEN Norway

PEN Norway is an independent and non-profit membership organisation, dedicated to defending freedom of expression and supporting writers at risk and writers in prison. PEN Norway’s goal is that everyone should have the right to express themselves freely.

PEN Norway is the Norwegian branch of PEN International – the world’s largest writer and freedom of expression organisation, established in 1921. PEN International’s founder, Catherine Amy Dawson-Scott, described the organisation as a «republic of words, which was to unite the nations».

PEN was established as an international literary club which also fought for writers’ right to freedom of expression. The abbreviation is short for «Poets, Essayists and Novelists» or «Poets, Editors and Novelists» – which one is correct is up for debate. PEN Norway was founded as a national subdivision by Johan Bojer in 1922.

From literary club to activist organisation

PEN Norway’s task is to guard, act and react where freedom of expression is put under direct or indirect pressure. We work specifically for imprisoned and persecuted colleagues internationally, at the same time as we keep a vigilant overview of the freedom of expression situation in Norway. Consequently, we aim to contribute to an increased public awareness and knowledge about the value of free debate and a culture around expression.

The organisation today

PEN Norway is a member organisation with more than 1000 members. The general assembly acts as PEN Norway’s supreme body, and both the board and the president are chosen by the general assembly meeting. The general assembly works by the PEN charter principles. See PEN Norway’s annual reports from the last few years here.

PEN Norway has several honorary members. They are suggested by the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), and are writers and journalists at risk.

If you wish to support our work for freedom of expression, you are welcome to apply for a membership in PEN Norway. More information can be found here.

PEN Western Norway 

PEN Norway has a local group in Western Norway, with headquarters in Bergen. PEN Western Norway was established in 2016 to fortify the positive contributions of our members in the Western part Norway. PEN Western Norway arranges seminars and programs.

Are you interested in starting a local group where you live? Get in touch with us at pen@norskpen.no.