The Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History has been awarded to The Information by James Gleick (published by Fourth Estate). The book was described by the judges as ‘bold and arresting’.
The £3,000 prize is awarded annually by the writers’ charity English PEN for a work of popular history. This year’s judges were Bryan Ward-Perkins (chair), Amanda Foreman and Caroline Moorehead.
The Judging Committee said: ‘The judges were overwhelmed by the excellence of the books submitted for this year’s Hessell-Tiltman History Prize. But in James Gleick’s book, The Information, we found something quite remarkable and were struck again and again by the way that his book stayed in the mind.’
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The writers’ charity, English PEN has launched PEN Atlas, an initiative of the Writers in Translation programme. Correspondents from around the world will post regular news and comment from the literary scenes in other countries.
Ros Schwartz, English PEN Trustee and Chair of the Writers in Translation Programme, commented: ‘The amount of foreign literature published in English is far too low. We hope the PEN Atlas will inspire literature lovers to sample new writing from other countries, and encourage publishers to bring that writing to the British market.’
The PEN Atlas is edited by Tasja Dorkofikis. New articles will be published online every Thursday. The first is by Athens-based Gazmend Kapllani, who writes on how authors are trying to continue writing while the economy collapses around them.
The PEN Atlas is aimed at literature lovers, publishers and translators.
A new project, launched by English PEN, offers guidance to authors on free expression issues. The organisation has commissioned Human Rights barrister Martha Spurrier to examine the rights and restrictions to free speech. Over the next 14 weeks, Freedom To Writer: A Users Guide will deal with issues such as libel, privacy, and the public interest, aimed particularly at authors wishing to know what they can and cannot write. Articles will be published online every Friday.
Director of English PEN Jonathan Heawood says: ‘The UK has strong tradition of free speech, but unfortunately any author who wants to a stir up the status quo or speak truth to power must first negotiate the complex areas of criminal and civil law relating to expression. Our new guide will help writers navigate the current law, so they can write what they want to write with confidence. We hope this will embolden writers to tell their story.’
Freedom to Write: A Users Guide is aimed at all writers – novelists, non-fiction writers, biographers or bloggers.
The guide cites many of English PEN’s recent campaigns for free expression in the UK, including our ‘Free Expression is No Offence’ Campaign (2005), our Criminal Memoirs Campaign (2009), and our ongoing Libel Reform Campaign, and will be updated to reflect changes in the law.