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Manchester joins global network of UNESCO Cities of Literature

01 Nov 2017

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

Manchester 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.  

Manchester’s successful bid was coordinated by a consortium involving Manchester City Council, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Manchester Literature Festival, plus representatives of the city’s writers, publishers and literary organisations.  The bid was endorsed by the Royal Society of Literature and the English Association.

A programme of cultural events and community writing projects will be developed to celebrate Manchester’s City of Literature status.  

The city boasts two of the country’s most highly regarded writing schools – our Centre for New Writing and the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University – plus Manchester Literature Festival, one of the most innovative and popular literary events in the UK.  It is home to a thriving live literature scene, with thousands of people attending book launches, author readings and performances, open mic nights and reading groups across the city, plus world-class publishers including Carcanet and Comma Press. 

Professor John McAuliffe, of the Centre for New Writing, said: “This is a cause for great celebration, which will help us to strengthen our university’s many partnerships with the city and its communities.  Our staff and student writers know that Manchester is a City of Literature, a place whose graduates include Anthony Burgess and the war poet Alun Lewis, Jeanette Winterson, Booker winner Barry Unsworth and bestseller Sophie Hannah."

Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “We are extremely proud to become a UNESCO City of Literature, as we recognise the power of words to promote greater understanding, well-being and learning across our proudly diverse city."

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. 

"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.”  

Watch a video of Manchester's bid: