The Legacy of Free Word

The Literary Consultancy was involved in the founding of the Free Word Centre in London in 2009, and maintained offices there until the centre’s closure in May 2021. As one of the Arts Council’s regularly funded organisations, it was given the chance to take part in a series of conversations about what it would mean to have a national and international centre for literature, literacy and free expression in the UK. TLC became engaged in the five-year conversation which ensued before Fritt Ord, a Norwegian Charity, bought 60 Farringdon Road, which became the Free Word Centre. The Arts Council supported the running costs of the building.

Free Word is many things: a venue, a meeting place, an office space, a thinking space, a place of debate and risk taking, a window to the world, a robust voice for the word . . .

Being a Founding Resident of Free Word gave TLC  the chance to expand its literary operations, and offer chances for people writing to come and learn about the publishing industry, meet other writers, practise their craft and benefit from cross fertilisation with the other resident companies. Over the 11 years we were residents, hundreds of writers would pop by for a coffee or to absorb the environment, attend an event, or join as an associate. This has impacted hugely on how TLC operates in the arts world, and the spirit of Free Word will continue to influence our public programme of events, projects and initiatives. We are committed to continuing to fight for the right to creative expression for every writer, storyteller, and artist, and look forward to new partnerships in this field.

From the Archives

The Free Word Centre, the world’s first centre for literature and free expression.

Creative and free expression: the transforming power of words

At Free Word, we know that words matter. Speaking out for what people believe makes us feel human. Having the freedom to read and write what we like gives our lives meaning. We need words not just to live but to flourish.

FREEWORD logoThat is why Free Word works to promote, protect and democratise the power of the written and spoken word, nationally and internationally.

Free Word is a place where media meets literature which brings people together to work collaboratively. People who are involved in literature, literacy and free expression are brought together with our unique programmes, events and attractive facilities, which include a lecture theatre, various meeting rooms, atrium and a café.

Free Word is many things: a venue, a meeting place, an office space, a thinking space, a place of debate and risk taking, a window to the world, a robust voice for the word. At Free Word you will hear known and unknown voices, the expected and the unexpected, and will be encouraged to engage with debate and controversy. And for the first time literature, literacy and free expression organisations will be working under one roof.

Resident Organisations and Associates

Together with the charity Free Word, there were six organisations resident at the Free Word Centre, all of whom continue to work in the space it represented:

  • Apples & Snakes
  • Article 19
  • English PEN
  • The Reading Agency
  • The Arvon Foundation
  • The Literary Consultancy

TLC is proud to be a Founder Member of Free Word; part of the original consortium which helped evolve the concepts behind the Free Word Centre. Together, the Funder Members have developed close links with each other and some exciting ideas for collaborative work. We hope these collaborations will continue on beyond the physical presence of Free Word as a venue.