Manchester, home to UK’s first public lending library, is now one of UNESCO’s global Cities of Literature.
UNESCO Cities of Literature are dedicated to pursuing excellence in literature on a local level. The cities engage as many citizens as possible in a dynamic culture of words and encourage the creation and sharing of stories. The network develops 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 and Manchester Metropolitan University. Manchester Literature Festival, plus representatives of the city’s writers, publishers and literary organisations were also instrumental in the bid. 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. Following extensive research and consultation, the bid’s steering committee has drawn up plans for a programme.
The programme includes a libraries festival, the establishment of a new writers’ hub and far-reaching initiatives to support new writing. 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.
It is a city that gave the world great writers including Elizabeth Gaskell and Anthony Burgess. It will join cities including Baghdad, Dublin, Barcelona, Prague, Melbourne, and Reykjavik in the global network.
Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman released a statement. Through programmes planned, he vowed to give “all of Manchester’s residents the chance to participate in and benefit from this thriving City of Literature.”