Manchester crowned a lifelong UNESCO City of Literature

Manchester has been successful in its bid to join UNESCO’s worldwide Creative Cities network as a City of Literature.

Manchester, which built the UK’s first public lending library and gave the world the work of great writers including Elizabeth Gaskell and Anthony Burgess, will join cities including Baghdad, Dublin, Barcelona, Prague, Melbourne, and Reykjavik in the global network.

UNESCO Cities of Literature are dedicated to pursuing excellence in literature on a local level, engaging as many citizens as possible in a dynamic culture of words and encouraging the creation and sharing of stories.  They work together to develop new local, national and international literary links, encouraging collaboration locally and across the world.  

A programme of cultural events and community writing projects will be developed to celebrate Manchester’s City of Literature status.  Following extensive research and consultation, the bid’s steering committee has drawn up plans for a programme that includes a libraries festival, the establishment of a new writers’ hub and far-reaching initiatives to support new writing, promoting writing in translation, music and words, and the writing of Manchester residents.  The programme will encourage collaboration - both internationally and within the city’s literary arts community.

Manchester is home to the world-class Central Library, as well as three historic gems - The Portico, John Rylands, and Chetham's libraries - and the legacy of its native authors is celebrated at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

Cathy Bolton, Co-director of the Manchester Literature Festival, said:  “We are delighted to be one of the key partners in Manchester’s successful bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature.  Boasting a rich and radical literary heritage, a vibrant and diverse live literature scene, two world class writing schools, and a proactive library service, Manchester is already a thriving hub of literary endeavour.

"We look forward to harnessing our collective energies in the development of some ambitious new projects, collaborating with international partners and engaging more people from across Manchester in transformative reading and writing activities.”

Stuart Goulden

Lead Consultant