PEN New England

PEN new england

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

—George Orwell, 1984


PEN New England is a chapter of PEN American Center, part of a global association of writers celebrating literature and defending free expression.

We make our home at the MIT School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences.

Henry David Thoreau Prize

Established in 2010 by writer and naturalist Dale Peterson, the Henry David Thoreau Prize is awarded annually to a writer demonstrating literary excellence in nature writing. Previous winners are Gretel Ehrlich, E. O. Wilson, Gary Snyder, Peter Matthiessen, and T. C. Boyle.


Diane Ackerman, winner of the 2015 Henry David Thoreau Prize

Diane Ackerman, winner of the 2015 Henry David Thoreau Prize

It begins in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.


Diane Ackerman is the winner of the 2015 Henry David Thoreau Prize. UPDATE: Due to anticipated inclement weather, the evening with Diane Ackerman has been canceled and will be rescheduled for a later date. Please check back for more information.

Poet, essayist, and naturalist, Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly acclaimed works of nonfiction and poetry, including The Zookeeper’s Wife and A Natural History of the Senses. 

Ackerman’s latest nonfiction book, The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, celebrates the natural world and human ingenuity, while exploring how the human race has become the single dominant force of change on the whole planet, and the many earth-shaking changes that now affect every part of our lives and those of our fellow creatures.