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Project information

Writers in Prison

There are over 900 writers around the world who are imprisoned for what they've written. We work to try and help get the writers released as well as support their families at a difficult time in their lives. We also let the writers we are working for know that people have not forgotten them.

Our project is ongoing

Charity information: English PEN

English PEN logo
  • Need


    The problem is that imprisoning writers for what they have written is contrary to free speech and prevents the circulation of ideas as well as chilling disclosure, dissent and disagreement which can hinder a nation's growth. The problem is also that writers - artists who use words - should not be locked up, because it is often to the detriment of their safety and health, and can mean they are separated from their friends and family, whilst being at risk of torture and persecution.


    We solve the problem by taking on around 50 cases each year, as one of 144 PEN centres around the world. We do everything from arrange diplomatic meetings, send campaigning letters, work with publishers to send books to prisoners, protest outside Embassies and promote extraordinary cases to the British press. When we can we apply for relief funds for imprisoned writers' families to support them during difficult times.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To secure the release of the 900+ writers imprisoned around the world for what they've written


    » We will campaign on behalf of the writers and encourage volunteers to do the same. We will send letters, campaign and publicise the writers' situation

    What success will look like

    We will measure this by how many writers are released as a result of our work.

  • Impact


    We will encourage the free speech of writers around the world and promote the idea that imprisoning your writers is not in any country or government's best interests.


    The only risk is borne by the writers in prison themselves. However, from time to time we send some English PEN writers on expeditions to countries we are working in to speak to the families of imprisoned writers and find out more on the ground. This does involve risks which we minimise through modeling best practice expedition work.


    We will report to donors through our monthly enewsletter, if they would like to receive this.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £70,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £50,000 Salaries For Writers in Prison staff to undertake the crucial work
      £20,000 Overheads and grants Covers office costs and allows us to send some money to support families of imprisoned writers
  • Background


    Our project is managed from London but relates to imprisoned writers all around the world.


    Imprisoned writers all around the world

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    English PEN has been campaiging for writers in prison around the world for 50 years. We have the expertise and experience to carry out this important work.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Cat Lucas

    Writers in Prison Officer