Biography and History

P.E.N. American Center is the U.S. branch of International P.E.N., a worldwide non-profit organization of writers, editors, and translators that advocates for freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and "the ideal of one humanity living in peace in the world" (P.E.N. charter). Founded one year after International P.E.N. in 1922, P.E.N. American Center is one of two P.E.N. centers currently located in the U.S. (the other is in Los Angeles) and one of 145 centers worldwide.

P.E.N. American Center sponsors a variety of literary, literacy, and advocacy programs. Among the center's prominent activities are the advocacy program Freedom to Write, which defends censored or persecuted authors; the financial aid program Writers' Emergency Fund, which gives small emergency grants to authors who face acute financial difficulties; the Prison Writing Program, which promotes writing among prison inmates; and World in Translation, which recognizes American translators. The center also awards a number of literary prizes in the categories fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, biography, children's/young adults' fiction, and translation.

P.E.N. American Center currently has a membership of 3,300. The center counts Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Salman Rushdie, and Princeton professor Edmund Keeley among its past presidents. Its current president is Princeton professor Kwame Anthoy Appiah. In addition, past members include James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Thomas Mann, Marianne Moore, Paul Auster, and John Steinbeck, among others.

Source: From the finding aid for C0760

  • P.E.N. American Center Records. 1922-2008 (inclusive), 1930-1989 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0760

    Consists of files created by P.E.N. American Center as part of its regular business operations since its founding in 1922. Includes material on governance and policies, programs, awards and financial aid granted to authors, and the center's involvement with International P.E.N. and other P.E.N. organizations worldwide. The collection is especially notable for its extensive author correspondence and occasional original manuscripts.

  • P.E.N. American Center Records. 1922-2008 (inclusive), 1930-1989 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0760

    Consists of files created by P.E.N. American Center as part of its regular business operations since its founding in 1922. Includes material on governance and policies, programs, awards and financial aid granted to authors, and the center's involvement with International P.E.N. and other P.E.N. organizations worldwide. The collection is especially notable for its extensive author correspondence and occasional original manuscripts.

  • Edmund Keeley Papers. 1910-2013 (inclusive), 1960-2011 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0763

    Edmund Keeley (1928-) is an author, translator, and Charles Barnwell Straut Professor Emeritus of English at Princeton University, best known for his translations and writings on Greek poets C. P. Cavafy, George Seferis, Odysseus Elytēs and Giannēs Ritsos. The papers consist of Keeley's drafts and proofs of translations, fiction, and nonfiction, including novels, articles, essays, introductions, reviews, and other writings, as well as for works he edited, along with personal and professional correspondence, faculty material, files of the P.E.N. American Center and other institutions with which he was involved, awards and speeches, biographical materials, family papers, scrapbook and other printed materials, manuscripts of others, and photographs.