News | Tuesday, 31st October 2017

Manchester named as a UNESCO City of Literature

Manchester Metropolitan University part of the city-wide consortium that led the successful bid

Manchester has been named as a UNESCO City of Literature, joining its worldwide Creative Cities network.

Manchester Metropolitan University was part of the city-wide consortium that led the successful bid.

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.  

Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate and Creative Director of Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan, said: "I'm so pleased that Manchester has been recognised as an international city of literature. We have a proud history of working together to find new voices and support and celebrate new writing. Ours is a city where literature is loved. I'm excited about the opportunities this recognition will bring." 

Manchester’s bid was coordinated by a consortium involving Manchester Metropolitan, Manchester City Council, the University of Manchester 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.

We have a proud history of working together to find new voices and support and celebrate new writing. Ours is a city where literature is loved. I'm excited about the opportunities this recognition will bring.

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 Writing School

The city boasts two of the country’s most highly regarded writing schools – the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, as well as the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing – 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. 

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. 

Dr Jess Edwards, Head of the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Manchester Metropolitan University is delighted to have supported Manchester’s successful bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature and to be part of the consortium that will realise the vision for this project.

"Manchester has deep roots as a home and subject of great literature, but its time as a City of Literature is now.  The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan, led by the UK Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, has twenty years of experience in developing new writing and in supporting reading and creativity in Manchester’s diverse communities.  We’re looking forward to working with our partners to make Manchester a City of Literature for everyone.”

Manchester has deep roots as a home and subject of great literature, but its time as a City of Literature is now. 

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.

“Building on the strong foundations of Manchester’s rich literary history, the council and our partners from the city’s universities and literary community will work together to create a programme of events which gives all of Manchester’s residents the chance to participate in and benefit from this thriving City of Literature.” 

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.”  

For more information, visit the Manchester City of Literature website.

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