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.