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Manchester City of Literature status

Manchester joins global network of UNESCO Cities of Literature

  • Manchester has been awarded City of Literature 
  • Joining 27 cities around the world

Manchester has been awarded City of Literature status and joins 27 such cities around the world who are part of UNESCO’s worldwide Creative Cities network.

The successful application was pushed forward by Manchester City Council, the Manchester Literature Festival and the city’s Universities. Others destinations in UNESCO’s network include Milan, Seattle and Melbourne.

Manchester is home to the UK’s first public lending library and gave the world work from world-class publishers and writers including Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Burgess and Carcanet.

The City of Literature status is awarded based on the city’s dedication to pursuing excellence in literature. Encouraging the creation and sharing of stories in the dynamic culture of word, the literary-acclaimed cities will work together to promote new national and international literary links.

In celebration of the award, a programme of cultural events and community writing projects will be developed to continue Manchester’s literary heritage. Plans for the programme include a libraries festival and the establishment of new writers’ hub. The hub will not only support budding writers, it is intended to initiate support / promote new writing in translation, words and music, as well as the work of Manchester residents.

It is well deserved too, with two of the country’s most highly regarded writing schools being based in Manchester; the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. The most popular and innovative Literature Festival in the UK also takes place in the city.

Dr Jess Edwards, Head of Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University said: “I’m actually part of the core group which made the successful bid for Manchester to become a UNESCO City of Literature. The core group includes MMU, University of Manchester, Manchester Literature Festival and the City Council, and I represent MMU.

“For me the City of Literature designation reflects Manchester’s literary heritage and perhaps more importantly the strength and vibrancy of writing in the city right now.”

Thousands of people attend Manchester’s thriving literature scene with book launches, open mic nights, live author book readings, performances and literacy groups to keep literature fanatics entertained.

Short story author Lara Williams who studied, and now lives and works, in Manchester said: “It’s exceptionally exciting and validating that Manchester has gained City of Literature status; it feels very special to be part of such an esteemed global network and I'm looking forward to seeing how this informs and, I hope, diversifies the writing coming out of the city.”

Manchester is a city for readers and writers. With this award life for creative people within the city can only get better.

Dr Jess Edwards added: “Our bid to UNESCO described a city where there are fifty individual live literature events taking place regularly, an outstanding of network of independent and public libraries, and the biggest community of student creative writers outside London.

“Becoming part of the global UNESCO Creative Cities network will give us the opportunity to build on those strengths, giving more support and recognition to Manchester writers and writing organisations, and developing links with Cities of Literature elsewhere, from Krakow to Baghdad.”

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