The Writing Manchester Map is an online interactive map of the city, operated by Manchester Metropolitan University and WordLife, which is free to access and allows users to explore the city’s literary locations for themselves.
Manchester has an extensive literary culture, from a range of spoken word nights to numerous organisations established to support creative culture, internationally recognised as a UNESCO City Of Literature – a title achieved in 2018.
Now there is a resource which seeks to showcase the city’s literary sites all in one place: The Writing Manchester Map. This is an online interactive map of the city, operated by Manchester Metropolitan University and WordLife, which is free to access and allows users to explore the city’s literary locations for themselves.
Thanks to colourful location pins placed across the map, users can see where in relation to each other these literary sites lie. The pins are colour-coordinated to five categories: Bookshops, Events, Organisations, Submissions and Venues.
All the pins can be viewed at once, which gives users a sense of the large-scale literary culture and particularly its density towards the city centre. However, the pins can also be filtered – for example, if a user just wants to look at ‘Bookshops’ in the city, and the map extends to the suburbs as well as the wider region.
The interactive, accessible qualities of the map are intended to celebrate and raise awareness of the impact of literature across Greater Manchester. The area after all contains a number of universities and education establishments, as well as The Manchester Writing School with the Creative Director of Carol Ann Duffy and Academic Director Adam O’Riordan; both highly respected poets. Carol Ann Duffy has also spent her ten years as Poet Laureate in the city.
Discovery is a key element of the map. Guests browsing will be able to find out more about the Manchester’s vibrant spoken word and poetry night scene, for example, with events like SPEAK and Verbose happening in interesting venues on a monthly basis. ‘Events’ also include reading series’ like Murmur.
The ‘Submissions’ pin is also the opportunity to see how members of the public have creatively responded to locations in Manchester, with 15 entries of poetry selected following a competition 2017, which invited people to submit writing on any location. The recurrent choice of Pomona was an interesting point.
‘Organisations’ featured on the map include Manchester International Festival, Manchester Literature Festival and The Greater Manchester Fringe, just to name a few.
Through the ‘Organisations’ pin, users can also discover the impressive number of independent and innovative publishers that operate in Manchester, bringing new creative fiction and plenty more to people’s bookshelves. Examples include Comma Press, Saraband and Cillian Press.
Manchester after all has a notable writing culture, including being the early home to historical figures such as Elizabeth Gaskell and Anthony Burgess - both who co-ordinate to the ‘Venue’ pins on the map: Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and The Anthony Burgess Centre respectively.
There is a huge selection of venues in Manchester which offer spaces for literature and associated events furthermore. Libraries are a key example of places which come under the ‘Venues’ pin, with the likes of the historic Portico Library built between 1802 and 1804, whilst the John Rylands Library first opened to the public in 1900.
The map is a digital literature project co-ordinated and informed by researches from WordLife and Manchester Metropolitan University. WordLife is a literary organisation based in Yorkshire which seeks to celebrate new writing, having first launched the Writing Sheffield Map. Together with city-wise researchers at Manchester Met, the Writing Manchester map took shape over the course of 2017 and 2018, and now is available to use here.