Alastair Niven is a literary scholar and administrator with a special interest in both D.H. Lawrence and African and Asian literature.

Niven is an unassuming, Scots-born literary grandee who was director of literature at both the Arts Council and British Council as well as being president of English PEN. Having studied in Ghana in the 1960s he has long been an advocate of Commonwealth literature: ‘It slightly irks me that young authors and academics are speaking today as though no one before them had thought of decolonising the syllabus in schools and universities.’ He was also a strong advocate of opening the Booker Prize to American authors and has a passion for the theatre.