Dr Alastair Niven is a Fellow of Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford. He was Director-General of the Africa Centre in London for six years. He then became Director of Literature at the Arts Council of Great Britain, later Arts Council England, from 1987 to 1997, and was Director of Literature at the British Council from 1997 to 2001; a unique double. He was President of English PEN from 2003 to 2007 and is currently Chairman of the Board of The Annual Register. He also chairs Border Crossings, a company promoting the arts across frontiers. He has written widely about post-colonial literature, as well as two books about D.H. Lawrence. He was awarded the OBE in 2001 and this year The Queen personally appointed him a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order.