Writers Under Surveillance with JPat Brown, Beryl Lipton, Jo Glanville and Hannah Trevarthen

Thursday 4th April 2019
18:30 at Waterstones, London - Gower Street

"Writers are dangerous. They have ideas."

The proclivity of writers for ideas drove the FBI to investigate many of them—to watch them, follow them, start files on them. Writers under Surveillance gathers some of these files, giving readers a surveillance-state perspective on writers including Hannah Arendt, Allen Ginsberg, Ernest Hemingway, Susan Sontag, and Hunter S. Thompson.

In this timely discussion, authors of Writers Under Surveillance and Senior Reporters at MuckRock JPat Brown and Beryl Lipton will be joined by Jo Glanville, journalist and former director of English PEN to discuss what the FBI files on famous literary figures tell us about Freedom of Information today. Hannah Trevarthen from English PEN will chair the conversation.

Obtained with Freedom of Information Act requests by MuckRock, a nonprofit dedicated to freeing American history from the locked filing cabinets of government agencies, the files on these authors are now available in print for the first time. Some are thrilling narratives. Others never really go anywhere. Some are funny, others quite harrowing. Yet what is most disconcerting is that despite the federal government's periodic admission of past wrongdoing, investigations like these will probably continue to happen.

Tickets are £10/8 (students/Waterstones cardholders) and include a glass of wine or soft drink


Hannah Trevarthen is Events and Development Manager at English PEN producing their year-round programme of high profile events. Prior to joining English PEN, Hannah worked as Assistant Programmer at Edinburgh International Book Festival and as a freelance cultural events coordinator.

Jo Glanville writes on freedom of expression and culture for the London Review of Books, the Guardian, the New York Times, Boundless and the FT, among other publications. She is the former director of English PEN, an award-winning editor of Index on Censorship and a news and documentary producer at the BBC.

London - Gower Street Waterstones, London - Gower Street
Thursday 4th April 2019

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