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City of Literature Status

Melbourne was the second city in the world to receive designation as a City of Literature within UNESCO's Creative Cities Network, following Edinburgh.

It is a permanent designation recognising Melbourne's literary strengths across diverse criteria:

  • Broad based publishing industry, preferably represented by independent publishing houses;
  • Recognised literary studies programs;
  • An urban panorama in which literature, drama and/or poetry play an integral role;
  • Tradition of hosting literary events and festivals;
  • Notable literary monuments and/or city infrastructure related to the literary world;
  • Libraries, bookshops and cultural spaces, both public and private, dedicated to the preservation, promotion and dissemination of literature;
  • Birthplace, residence and/or workplace of renowned writers, poets and philosophers;
  • Historic presence of the city in literary works, preferably conceived by native writers;
  • Existing works of literature about the city;
  • Active role of publishing industry in translating foreign works of literature;
  • Important printing industry; and
  • Active involvement of the media in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products.

Melbourne's bid to UNESCO revealed the literary foundations of the colonial city which soon developed into a broad range of cultural and economic institutions. With the help of gold and immigration Melbourne quickly became a cultural capital in the region. To this day it remains a focal point for cultural and literary activity including writing, translation, publishing, retailing, reading and public discussion.

City of Literature status provides an overarching brand for the diverse and frequent literary activity occurring across the state, and reinforces the eminent cultural status of Melbourne internationally.

In 2014 a dedicated City of Literature office opened in Melbourne, visit the City of Literature office website to find out more.

Large crowd of people standing in a city square

Federation Square