JK Rowling to receive human rights award

image copyrightAP
image captionJK Rowling is the founder of a multiple sclerosis research charity and another that helps children move from life in care to one within a family

JK Rowling is to receive a prestigious award from literary and human rights group Pen America.

The Harry Potter author will be presented with the Pen/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award on 16 May at the group's annual spring gala in New York.

Pen (Poets, Essayists and Novelists) said it was honouring the author in recognition of her support for free expression and charitable causes.

Previous winners have included Sir Salman Rushdie and Sir Tom Stoppard.

Pen America states it aims "to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others".

Its Literary Service Award award is given annually to authors whose work fights repression and censorship around the globe.

Rowling is the founder of the charitable trust Volant, which supports multiple sclerosis research.

She is also the founder of the non-profit-making organisation Lumos, which works to reconnect children who have been in institutional care with life within a family.

'Honoured and humbled'

A statement from the organisation said: "Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, JK Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level.

"Her charitable trust, Volant, supports causes in the United Kingdom and abroad that alleviate social exclusion, with particular emphasis on women and children."

Rowling expressed her pride at having been chosen to receive the award.

"I'm deeply honoured to receive this award and humbled that my work has been recognised as having moral value by an organisation I so admire," she said.

"I've long been a supporter of Pen, which does invaluable work on behalf of imprisoned writers and in defence of freedom of speech."

Prize-winning author Andrew Solomon, president of Pen America added that Rowling's writing provided a wealth of "imagination, empathy, humour, and a love of reading, along the way revealing moral choices that help us understand ourselves".

He added: "Through their experiences with Rowling both on and off the page, countless children have learned not only the power of speaking their own minds, but the critical importance of hearing others."

At the May ceremony, Pen will also honour Hachette Books chief executive Michael Pietsch for his anti-censorship work. In 2015, he encouraged American publishers to resist censorship in China.

And in the coming weeks, Pen will announce its selection for its Freedom to Write Award and the Pen/James and Toni C Goodale Freedom of Expression and Courage Award.

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