PEN American Center mourns the loss of Lucy Kavaler, one of our most active, inspiring, and beloved Freedom to Write advocates. Lucy passed away October 30, 2010 in New York at the age of 87.

Throughout her remarkable 43-year Membership in PEN American Center, Lucy Kavaler was a leading light of the Freedom to Write Committee, where she worked on the cases of dozens of imprisoned writers over the years, challenging their governments, corresponding with their families, and rallying her fellow PEN members in their defense. She exemplified the essential spirit of PEN’s international advocacy: direct, writer-to-writer solidarity, assisting and touching writers who were imperiled because of their work on every continent. She did this modestly, thoroughly, tenaciously, and joyfully, reminding us all by her example of how lucky we are to be able to be doing this work.

In addition to her numberless contributions to the Freedom to Write Committee, Lucy helped found PEN’s Prison Writing program in 1971 and was a judge of the annual prison writing contest that has given voice to so many women and men incarcerated in the United States.

She was, in short, an extraordinary PEN colleague and a dear friend. She will be long remembered and deeply missed.