Philip Pullman Resigns As Oxford Literary Festival Patron Over Lack Of Pay For Authors

His Dark Materials

Last week, I posted about the open letter the Society of Authors released, which called for fairer wages for writers. Philip Pullman, author of ‘His Dark Materials’ and current president of the Society of Authors, spoke on the issue saying that ‘the case for fair terms for writers was “overwhelming.”’

On Wednesday this week the author declared over twitter that he has decided to resign from his position as patron of the Oxford Literary Festival.

— Philip Pullman (@PhilipPullman) January 13, 2016

Because of the Oxford Literary Festival’s attitude to paying speakers (they don’t) I can’t remain as a Patron any longer. I’ve resigned.

In this recent article in the Guardian, he elaborates on his reasoning, going in to more detail about the festival.

“The principle is very simple: a festival pays the people who supply the marquees, it pays the printers who print the brochure, it pays the rent for the lecture halls and other places, it pays the people who run the administration and the publicity, it pays for the electricity it uses, it pays for the drinks and dinners it lays on: why is it that the authors, the very people at the centre of the whole thing, the only reason customers come along and buy their tickets in the first place, are the only ones who are expected to work for nothing?

– Philip Pullman

I found this particular quote of his clearly showed how authors are taken for granted. Writing seems to be thought of as a noble and respectable profession, but when it comes to being paid writers inevitably get the short end of the stick.

It’s nice to see someone stand by their principles, and I can’t help but develop a new-found respect for the man.

(Side note – if you look through the replies on his tweet, you’ll see some horror stories from other authors about how, rather than money, they were paid in things like jam and scented candles to speak at these events. Maybe I should try that next time I call out a plumber – just hand the guy a lavender-scented candle as payment for his work).


© 2016, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Photo by Myles Grant licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

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