Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) has been working with PEN International since February 2019, supporting them in the wonderful work they are doing.

PEN International is a charity that was founded in London in 1921. It is made up of a worldwide association of writers and promotes and defends freedom of expression and the human rights of writers, journalists, screen-writers, bloggers and other creatives who are at risk due to their work.

It also fosters friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere. The association has autonomous international PEN centres in over 100 countries.

Working on a global platform means there is always a need for multilingual translations, whether for pre-planned reviews, reports, newsletters, minutes, Rapid Action Network Alerts (RANS), press releases and even prose or poetry.

This is where we come in.

STB began our collaboration with PEN International early last year, when we started providing translation services to them, mainly in Spanish and French, but also in other languages such as Arabic and Russian. A lot of the work we do with the organisation is either at a discounted rate or on a pro bono basis.

It has been very rewarding for us to get involved in these projects, which have ranged from interviews with writers across the globe to reports that highlight the need for freedom of expression. One such project was the translation of the ‘Day of Imprisoned Writer’ newsletter, which features compelling stories of writers, activists and poets that have been imprisoned because of their work. The newsletter appeals to readers to take action in support of these writers, providing a detailed background of the climate for freedom of expression on a global scale, which is the theme of the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award Night for this year, to be held at the Writers Unlimited Festival in the Hague.

At the Winternachten International Literature Festival, held between 15–19 January 2020, hundreds of writers, poets, artists and musicians from around the world will display their skills and talk about different issues, including freedom and decolonisation in literature and art.

Every year since 2011, PEN International has invited a speaker to open the ceremony with the Free the Word! speech. The event centres around the Oxfam Novib/PEN Freedom of Expression Award, which is given each year in recognition of writers’ significant contribution to freedom of expression around the world.

‘This award is not only our way of honouring courageous writers and journalists who continue to fight for freedom of expression at great personal risk, it is also a way of telling those who seek to silence them that the world is watching.’

Carles Torner, Executive Director, PEN International

Here at STB, we are proud of the contributions we are making to this global cause and hope to continue our association with PEN International for many years to come.

If you would like more information on our pro bono work, please get in touch with us at or call +44 (0) 1252730014.

By Marya Jabeen