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With free expression under siege in the United States, online, and around the world, PEN America understands the stakes

  • There is a growing awareness of freedom of expression as crucial to preserving democracy and stabilizing a precarious globe
  • Free speech is the failsafe of open societies and essential to the creation of literature
  • Writers are the canaries in the coal mine, without whom injustice and repression go unchallenged
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The Centenary Campaign will enable PEN America to tackle two mission critical challenges:

  • Address emerging and evolving threats: meet this moment with a nuanced and comprehensive approach
  • Shape the future: fortify the stakeholders, norms and structures that will undergird robust protections for free speech and open discourse over time
Writers Congress 2022

PEN America’s Centenary Campaign will support five key priorities, while preparing PEN America for a second century of groundbreaking work

  1. Respond rapidly to emerging crises and fight back against threats in real-time combining in-house subject matter expertise with communications capacity
  2. Leverage integrated research, advocacy and campaigning to achieve larger scale victories at the local, national, and international levels
  3. Enable all voices to be heard and drive forward pathbreaking efforts toward literary inclusivity
  4. Mobilize an interconnected, global PEN network with an expanded membership and deep local roots across the United States to celebrate literary culture and catalyze advocacy
  5. Safeguard PEN America for the next century with internal capacity and endowment funds that will create sustainable revenue to support multiple initiatives

Support PEN America's
Centenary Campaign today

Learn More About the 100 Year History of PEN America


Catch "PEN America at 100" at the New-York Historical Society | July 22 - October 9, 2022


PEN America at 100: A Century of Defending the Written Word 1922-2022, a new exhibit curated by PEN America trustee Bridget Colman with Lisa Kolosek, honors the centenary of PEN America and provides an in-depth look at its complex, inspiring, and powerful history over the last 100 years. What began in the aftermath of World War I as an international literary club with the intent of providing intellectual community among poets, playwrights, editors, essayists, and novelists has evolved into a consequential organization at the forefront of the global defense of free expression. Themes such as internationalism, censorship, and human rights inform this exhibition that explores PEN America’s considerable history and enduring mission to promote a diverse literary culture and protect the freedom to write. Esteemed members from Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and Toni Morrison to today’s President Ayad Akhtar trace PEN America’s history through letters, photographs, prizes, and posters. These archival treasures bring to life a vital literary community united over 100 years to protect essential liberties and honor the creativity they make possible. Curated by Bridget Colman with Lisa Kolosek.

PEN America at 100 was open at the New-York Historical Society from July 22, 2022 to October 9, 2022.

Attend the Event Series Honoring Critical Moments in the History of Free Speech

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Flashpoints: Free Speech in American History, Culture and Society

Flashpoints: Free Speech in American History, Culture & Society is an event series that will present the fascinating and complex history of free speech in American democracy to public audiences in cities across the country. The series will examine how free speech has evolved, illuminate past debates over who has the right to speak and shed light on present debates about free speech in the context of protest, dissent, and the quest for social change.

Commemorate 100 years with us

Join Us for a Special Symposium Event in Honor of PEN America’s Centenary

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Words on Fire: Writing, Freedom, and the Future

Over the last 100 years, PEN America has mobilized countless writers, activists, and public intellectuals in the fight to defend free expression and the open exchange of ideas. Join PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel and President Ayad Akhtar for Words on Fire: Writing, Freedom, and the Future, an afternoon of public conversation with world-renowned authors and staunch advocates for the freedom to write including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Jenny Finney Boylan, Dave Eggers, and Salman Rushdie. The speakers will reflect on milestone moments in PEN America’s history and current-day instances of silencing, charting the ways in which writing and free speech are being challenged through book bans, educational gag orders, online harassment, self-censorship, and the detention of journalists and artists worldwide.

* PEN America is working with those closest to Salman Rushdie to determine how the Symposium can best honor his work and voice as he recovers from severe injuries in an attack chillingly linked to the themes of this event and PEN America’s work to defend and celebrate free expression.


Look Back at the Books That Made PEN America What It Is Today

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The PEN at 100 Reading List

To honor PEN's 100th year, we have curated a new reading list highlighting members of the organization who have produced some of the most influential works of the past century. What began in the aftermath of World War I as an American literary club with the intent of providing intellectual community among poets, playwrights, editors, essayists, and novelists has evolved into an organization that is at the forefront of the global defense of free expression and the largest of the more than 100 PEN centers worldwide.