Society management

Philip Pullman leaves the presidency of the Society of Authors

English author Philip Pullman has resigned as president of the Society of Authors (SoA) following controversy over his support for an author accused of racial stereotyping and ableism.

Pullman came under fire last year when he came out in favor of Scottish poet and writer Kate Clanchy for her book ‘Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me’. In response to a tweet he mistakenly assumed was about Clanchy, Pullman, in a now-deleted tweet, said those who critiqued the book without reading it would “find a comfortable home in Isis or the Taliban.” He even called the book “human, warm, decent, generous and welcoming”.

In a letter sent to the SoA’s management committee this month, the children’s author said he “would not be free to express [his] personal opinion” as long as he remained in the role. However, Pullman will remain on the board of the union

The SoA said its comments were “not on behalf of the Society of Authors” and asked its members to “care about the privilege and impact of what they create, do and say”.

In his letter of resignation, Pullman said: “Recent events have shown that when a difference of opinion arises, there is no easy way to resolve it within the framework of the constitution or the established practices of the Society.”

“When it became clear that my statements were taken as if they represented the views of the Society as a whole (although they did no such thing and had no intention of doing so do), and that I was being pressured by people both inside and outside the Society to retract them and apologize, I realized that I would not be free to express my personal opinions as long as I remained President . ” he added.

Meanwhile, in January publisher Pan Macmillan and Clanchy ended their agreement “by mutual consent”, with the publisher saying it would not publish new Clanchy titles or any updated editions of her. and that it would rescind the rights and cease distribution, following criticism of ‘Some The Children I Taught and What They Taught Me’.