The Writers’ Union of Iceland (RSÍ) is a professional organisation for authors founded in 1974. Until then, Icelandic writers had a union since 1928 when writers got their own chapter within the Artists Union of Iceland. From 1945, Icelandic writers formed two unions which worked closely together from 1957 until they eventually merged.
The Writers’ Union of Iceland currently has some 650members, including poets, novelists, dramatists, scriptwriters, writers of children’s books, authors of academic works, and translators.
The purpose of the Writers’ Union
The object of the Writers’ Union of Iceland is that of strengthening the association of Icelandic authors, safeguarding their interests and rights in conformity with international custom, defending the freedom and honour of literature and opposing any kind of persecution of authors and obstacles in their profession.
The Writers’ Union of Iceland will not participate in the struggle of political parties and nor will it be concerned with artistic policies, political opinions or religion.
The right to membership have all Icelandic authors and foreign authors residing permanently in Iceland, having published two original or translated works of high quality.
The Writers’ Union of Iceland has concluded agreements with the publishers of books, the State Broadcasting Service, The National Centre for Educational Material, the National Theatre and other parties publishing or utilizing literary works.
The Writers’ Union of Iceland is a member of the Federation of Icelandic Artists, the Nordic Council of Writers and translators, the Baltic Writers’ and translators’ Council, the European Writers’ Council, The International Authors Forum, CEATL and NORNE
The board of the Writers’ Union of Iceland consists of five principals and two reserves. The board members are elected for a term of 2 years.
The union reaches its members through a newsletter every other month and via the internet as well. The newsletter contains information on available grants, writing competitions, agreements and other issues.
The Writers’ Centre
The Writers’ Union of Iceland runs the Writers’ Centre in Gunnarshús which represents writers and their works, arranges seminars and programs for schools and provides assistance for all kinds of literary events.
Gunnarshús – the Writers’ House in Reykjavík
Gunnarshús in Reykjavík is the home of the Writers’ Union of Iceland. The house is quite remarkable as it was the last residence of writer Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889-1975) but it is also truly a milestone in the history of Icelandic architecture.
The Writers’ Union has held a number of literary events in Gunnarshús, in addition to supplying meeting facilities to various groups of writers. The Union also holds receptions in the house for foreign writers, giving them a chance to meet their Icelandic colleagues.
The Writers’ Residence in Gunnarshús
An apartment for visiting writers has been available in Gunnarshús from 1999. Gunnarshús is centrally located in Reykjavík (10 min. with bus to downtown). The 60 square meter apartment, which is in the basement, comprises a living-room/study, a kitchen, and a bathroom.