Society of Authors was founded in 1884 by Sir Walter Besant (1836–1901) to help authors stand up for their rights, especially in matters of copyright. Within thirty years the society had achieved a good deal in the protection of authors, more particularly in dealing with publishers’ contracts.
George Bernard Shaw became a militant supporter, especially over the rights of dramatists. In 1931 the League of Dramatists was created as an autonomous section of society. Other sections were formed in due course. Membership of the society enables an author to receive help in such matters as taxation, contracts, libel, and social security. The society made an outstanding contribution in the campaign (which lasted for twenty-eight years) to establish the Public Lending Right.
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