So English PEN is the founding centre of an international writers' association known as PEN International, which now has centres in over 100 countries around the world. PEN was established in 1991 by a group of writers who were very concerned to aid international understanding between writers and that evolved over the years into the free speech NGO that we are today. We see our mission as promoting the freedom to write and the freedom to read and identify and remove any barriers to those freedoms, whether those barriers are political, legal, social or economic.
I have been director of English PEN for six and a half years. Before that I worked for a think tank. Before that, for the Observer newspaper, where I was on the books desk, and before that I was in academia.