Estonian Writers' Union

Address

Harju 1, Tallinn 10146, Estonia 
Phone (372) 627 64 10, (372) 627 64 11 
Fax (372) 627 64 10 
E-mail

Staff

Chairman  Karl Martin Sinijärv (372) 627 64 11 
Secretary Helle Aava (372) 627 64 10 
Counsellor Piret Viires (372) 627 64 12 
Accountant  Maie Otsason (372) 627 64 13 
Managing director Mart Siilmann (372) 627 64 15

Board

Maimu Berg, Toomas Haug, Krista Kaer, Jan Kaus, Kalev Kesküla, Janika Kronberg, Mihkel Mutt, Karl Martin Sinijärv (chairman), Berk Vaher, Piret Viires, Märt Väljataga
 

History

Estonian Writers’ Union as a professional association of writers and literary critics was founded on October 8, 1922 at Tallinn Town Hall. The number of its members at the time was 33 and by 1940 the membership had increased by 20 more people. During the first independence period of Estonia the chairmanship of the creative union was held by Friedebert Tuglas, Eduard Hubel (Mait Metsanurk), Karl Ast (Rumor), Henrik Visnapuu and August Jakobson.

When Estonia had been incorporated into the Soviet Union, an organizing committee of the Estonian Soviet Writers’ Union (chairman August Jakobson) began to operate in October 1943. On October 8 and 9, 1943 a founding conference took place in Moscow, where the board, presidium and the chairman of the new union were elected. The Moscow-born association of Estonian writers was called  Estonian Soviet Writers’ Union until 1958, later it became the Writers’ Union of the Estonian SSR. Since the founding conference it has been chaired by Johannes Vares-Barbarus, August Jakobson, Johannes Semper, Juhan Smuul, Paul Kuusberg and Vladimir Beekman. 

During the 1941-1944 German occupation in Estonia the Union's work was at first organised by a three-member board (chairman Albert Kivikas). In summer 1943, along with other political associations and unions, it was able to start regular work again. The  meeting in Tartu on 12 December 1943 elected Gustav Suits as chairman of the Writers' Union.

Estonian writers managing to escape to the free west in the war-autumn of 1944 succeeded in organizing their activities so quickly that Estonian Writers’ Union Abroad was founded as early as in 1945 in Stockholm. Until 1982 it was chaired by August Mälk, after that by Kalju Lepik and Enn Nõu.

Ideological isolation made it impossible to have official contacts between the two writers’ unions until 1989, when a so-called unofficial, but actually a high-level and extremely successful meeting of writers from both sides of the border took place in May in Helsinki. More honest and talented writers at home and abroad had succeeded in protecting and supporting their nation’s ideals of freedom and culture despite all the poilitical and economical difficulties. 

The professional association of writers in Estonia started to call itself Estonian Writers’ Union again in 1991. From 1995 until 2004  it was chaired by Mati Sirkel. In October 2000 Estonian Writers’ Union Abroad decided to dissolve itself and its former members were in corpore accepted as members of Estonian Writers’ Union.  In addition to the section in Tartu (chaired by Janika Kronberg till 2005, from 2005 chaired by Berk Vaher) a section was founded in Stockholm (chaired by Karin Saarsen-Karlstedt). At present EWU has a membership of 302 writers, literary translators, critics and researchers bot in Estonia and worldwide.From 1992 on EWU is the member of the European Writers’ Congress. 2004-2007 EWU was chaired by Jan Kaus, since 2007 April it is chaired by Karl Martin Sinijärv.