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All You Need to Know About the ‘Society of Authors’

Updated: Aug 29, 2021

Did you recently hear about the Society of Authors from someone but are still not sure what it is? Continue reading to find out all you need to know about this prestigious organization and why should you consider becoming a member.

An author writing a letter to the Society of Authors
Author writing on a typewriter, smoking a pipe

What Is the Society of Authors?

The Society of Authors (SOA) acts as a trade union in the United Kingdom (UK) for all those who belong to a literary background. Its members come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds and include young and new authors, poets, illustrators, translators, as well as the prominent and more well-established ones.

The SOA works as a support system. It not only advocates for the rights of authors, giving them legal, financial and social support, but also provides them a platform for networking opportunities. SOA appreciates and recognises the work of prolific authors through its numerous award and prize distribution ceremonies.

The SOA is also responsible for managing the estates of deceased British writers and poets like; George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Philip Larkin, E. M. Forster, Rosamond Lehmann, Walter de la Mare, John Masefield and Compton Mackenzie. Income generated from them is used to further SOA’s cause.

A Brief History of SOA

The first General Meeting of the Society of Authors took place on 18 February, 1884. Its agenda was to promote unity and goodwill amongst the authors of Great Britain and lobby for their rights.

In the first general meeting, a Management Committee was elected and Sir Walter Besant, prominent English novelist and historian, was appointed the Chairperson. On the same day, a Council comprising of 18 members was also set up and Lord Alfred Tennyson became its first President.

The SOA began publishing a quarterly journal called ‘The Author’ which featured all the issues that the authors faced while pursing their literary passion.

Soon after its inauguration, the SOA started championing for authors’ rights and successful campaigns resulted in the protection of copyright and Pubic Lending Right which safeguarded authors’ interests.

Benefits and Services Offered by SOA

There are several benefits and services that all members of SOA are entitled to. Some of these include:

· Legal advice on publishing contracts

· Professional advice

· Lobbying for author’s rights

· Grants and prizes

· Award recognitions

· Financial aid

· Networking events

· Subscription of The Author

· 25% discount on books

· Free membership of ALCS

· Special offers of insurance and tax protection

· An author profile on SOA’s searchable and online database

How Can You Become a Member of SOA?

Becoming a member of the SOA can greatly benefit authors who have just started out. It can quickly introduce them to the larger fabric of the SOA, giving them the opportunity to learn from and grow with the senior members.

To become a member, you simply have to visit the official website of SOA and check if you are eligible to be a member.

Once you have checked your eligibility and completed a detailed membership form, you can pick your membership plan and proceed to pay a small amount as your annual membership fee, in-order to avail all the benefits and services offered by the SOA.

Notable Members of SOA

Some of the notable writers and poets who have been members of the Society of Authors include:

· Thomas Hardy

· George Bernard Shaw

· Lord Alfred Tennyson

· John Galsworthy

· John Edward Masefield

· Herbert George Wells,

· Sir James Matthew Barrie

· Edward Morgan Forster

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