Writers International Edition

Michael Rosen Honored with PEN Pinter Prize for Outstanding Literary Merit

Author Michael Rosen expressed his deep appreciation for being awarded this year’s prestigious PEN Pinter Prize, stating that he feels “greatly honoured” to receive such recognition. The PEN Pinter Prize is bestowed upon writers who demonstrate “outstanding literary merit” and fearlessly confront the realities of the world through their work.

While Rosen is widely recognized for his beloved children’s books, such as the classic “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt,” he has also tackled important and sensitive subjects like migration and the Holocaust in his writing for young readers. Ruth Borthwick, Chair of English PEN, praised Rosen’s tenacity and fearlessness as a writer, emphasizing his significant contributions to contemporary poetry for children.

Rosen’s unique approach to writing for children, which reflects their everyday lives and encourages imagination through humor and wordplay, has made a profound impact. His interventions have shed light on the shortcomings of current literacy education in schools, advocating for a more engaging and empowering approach to teaching.

In 2021, Rosen published a poignant account of his experience battling Covid-19, during which he was left in a coma. Remarkably, hospital staff pinned one of his poems, written for the NHS’s 60th anniversary in 2008, above his bed. Borthwick commended Rosen’s resilience, stating that “even Covid couldn’t silence him!”

Established in 2009 by English PEN, the PEN Pinter Prize pays tribute to the memory of Nobel laureate playwright Harold Pinter. The award is presented by the charity organization English PEN, which advocates for freedom of expression and celebrates literature.

Rosen, currently a professor of children’s literature at Goldsmiths, University of London, previously served as the Children’s Laureate from 2007 to 2009. In accepting the PEN Pinter Prize, Rosen expressed his thoughts on the countless individuals worldwide who face imprisonment, torture, or execution for bravely writing about perceived injustices.

The award ceremony, co-hosted by the British Library, will take place on 11 October. During the event, Rosen will announce the recipient of the international “writer of courage” award, which he has chosen to share his honor with.

Previous winners of the PEN Pinter Prize include esteemed figures such as Malorie Blackman, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lemn Sissay, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard, and Carol Ann Duffy.

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