In 2002, Edinburgh was a literary powerhouse, attracting and spawning best-selling writers, home to vibrant publishing houses and the birthplace of the world’s biggest book festival. Then, as now, Edinburgh was bursting with literary history and heritage and four book lovers – James Boyle, Jenny Brown, Lorraine Fannon and Catherine Lockerbie – decided over an extended lunch to approach UNESCO, to recognise the rich past, innovative present and potential future of Edinburgh as a City of Literature.
Over the next two years a study was commissioned and conducted to see how practical the designation of Edinburgh as a City of Literature actually was. The results were overwhelmingly positive and drew an enthusiastic band of partners, supporters and champions so that within hours of the formal submission of the bid in 2004, the proposal was given absolute approval and praised by more than 100 ambassadors in attendance.
Edinburgh became the world’s first City of Literature, spawning not only 11 Cities of Literature but 69 Creative Cities across seven thematic areas.