Search Terms

Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup Blog Video Facebook Twitter Instagram


An Overview of English PEN and PEN International Records at the Harry Ransom Center

Creators: English PEN and PEN International
Title: PEN Records
Dates: 1912-2008, undated
Extent: 250 containers (180 linear feet)
Abstract: The records of the writers' organizations English PEN (founded 1921) and PEN International (founded 1922) contain correspondence from writer-members and constituent centres, as well as files documenting committees, meetings, membership, political activities, awards, programs, publications, and social events.
Call Number: MS-03133
Language: Chiefly English, French, German, and Spanish
Access: The PEN Records are currently being cataloged during a two-year National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded project, from September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2019. While cataloging is underway, portions of the PEN holdings will not be accessible to researchers. The PEN processing archivist, along with library public services staff, will be available to consult with researchers about possible access to PEN materials not being actively processed. The collection will be fully opened to research once the NEH project is complete, on September 1, 2019. Please contact the Center before requesting this material:

Summary of English PEN and PEN International Records:
Group 1: 131 document boxes; accessions R4101, R5841/R5842, R8286 (purchases, 1968-1978); span dates 1921-1952. Records of the founding English PEN centre and PEN International, chiefly general correspondence spanning 1921 to 1952 from the files of founder Catherine Amy Dawson Scott and Hermon Ould, the first International PEN secretary (1926-1951). The correspondence documents the day-to-day activities of the organization along with numerous other files for annual PEN International Congresses and other meeting and events, committees, membership, prizes awarded, PEN publications, and financial records.
Group 2: 33 cartons; accession R12143 (purchase, 1990); span dates 1951-1973. Records of PEN International Secretary David Carver (and his assistants), containing extensive files of correspondence with PEN’s worldwide centres, together with extensive documentation, including texts of addresses and resolutions, of the International Congresses, 1951-1973.
Group 3: 64 cartons; accession R15188 (purchase, 2003); span dates 1912-2002 (bulk 1976-1997). In large part, this accession comprises the files of Josephine Pullein-Thompson, who was the general secretary of the English PEN centre from 1976 to 1993 and who also served as its president from 1994-1997. Some earlier records are also present, as well as files begun by earlier officials (Herman Ould, David Carver, Peter Elstob) and carried forward by Pullein-Thompson.
Group 4: 3 document boxes, 2 cartons; accession 2009-07-006-G (gift, 2009); span dates 1970-2003. Chiefly English PEN centre financial papers and related correspondence, membership cards, and general information documenting the centre’s activities and projects, 1970-2003.
Group 5: 17 cartons; accession 2015-12-018-P (purchase, 2015); span dates 1941-2008. Chiefly membership files of the English PEN centre (14 cartons) and records of the Writers in Prison Committee (3 cartons), 1941-2008.

Numerous collections at the Ransom Center document authors who were PEN officers or active members, among them A. L. Barker, Sybille Bedford, Christine Brooke-Rose, Joseph Conrad, Nancy Cunard, John Galsworthy, Nadine Gordimer, Storm Jameson, Francis Henry King, D. H. Lawrence, Norman Mailer, W. Somerset Maugham, Arthur Miller, J. B. Priestley, Elmer Rice, George Bernard Shaw, Tom Stoppard, Paul Valéry, and H. G. Wells.

Photographs: 25 items in Photography Literary File Collection, chiefly images of or pertaining to the Rupert Brooke Memorial Statue on the island of Skyros created by sculptor Michel Tombros.
Publications: Several important PEN serial publication runs, including PEN News (1927-1964); PEN Newsletter of the English Centre (1962-1973); PEN Broadsheet (1977-1989). Catalog records accessible via University of Texas at Austin Library Catalog.
Vertical File: 12 document boxes. Contains printed materials (non-book) removed from Group 1 during original processing and description in a card catalog.


PEN (Organization)
London Centre of the International PEN