It seemed as if the rock and castle assumed a new aspect every time I looked at them; and Arthurs Seat was perfect witchcraft. I don't wonder that anyone residing in Edinburgh should write poetically.

Washington Irving

City of LiteratureMelbourne City of Literature

We congratulate Melbourne on becoming the second UNESCO City of Literature and we look forward to building a strong partnership, that enhances and promotes the literary culture that is a recognized strength of our cities and its people.

Melbourne became the second UNESCO City of Literature in August 2008. They produced an online book detailing their literary heritage and aspirations - you can download it here, and read the summary below.


Melbourne City of LiteratureMelbourne's City of Literature Bid PDFPoet Sean M Whelan performing live

Ten Things To Know about Melbourne

Cultural Capital - Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria and is Australia’s second-largest city with a population of 3.6million. It is widely viewed as being Australia’s cultural capital.

Publishing - Melbourne’s literary publishing sector is by far the largest in Australia.

Bookshops - the city boasts more bookshops per head of population than anywhere else in the country.

Readers - more people borrow more books from local libraries in Melbourne than anywhere else in Australia. Reading groups are extremely popular and include Melbourne’s Ivanhoe Reading Circle, which is Australia’s oldest book group, and has met continuously since the 1920s.

State Library of Victoria - is the state’s oldest publicly funded cultural institution and the oldest free public library in Australia. It currently houses some 3.5 million items and is visited by around 1.1 million people each year. Visit the State Library of Victoria online and find out more about their new exhibition, The Independent Type: Books and writing in Victoria. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh State Library of Victoria

Famous Authors - Australia’s two foremost 19th-century novelists were Rolf Boldrewood (Thomas Browne) and Marcus Clarke, who both lived and at times wrote in Melbourne. The most famous of Melbourne’s early poets is C.J. Dennis. The internationally renowned novelist and twice Booker prize-winning author Peter Carey was born in Melbourne. Poet, essayist and novelist Chris Wallace-Crabbe and poet Dorothy Porter have been widely translated, and there are numerous crime fiction and children’s fiction authors who have been widely published.

Steven Carroll, author of The Time We Have Taken, the winner of the 2008 Miles Franklin Literary Award, said the designation confirmed that Melbourne was the cultural centre of Australia:

"Melbourne has over the last century inspired some of the greatest works of Australian literature. There is just something about the place - just think books by the likes of Hal Porter, George Johnston, Miles Franklin and Helen Garner."

Centre for Youth Literature – the State Library of Victoria contains Melbourne’s Centre for Youth Literature.

Literary Festivals - Melbourne is home to a range of literary festivals: Melbourne Writers’ Festival, the Overload Poetry Festival, the Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures and the Emerging Writers’ Festival.

Literary Prizes - Melbourne is home to one of Australia’s most valuable literary awards, the Melbourne Prize for Literature.

The Wheeler Centre - as part of its bid to be a City of Literature, the Victorian Government created The Wheeler Centre, named for the Melbourne-based founders of the Lonely Planet guides. This new building is a ‘hub’ for writing and literature-based activities and organisations including peak organisations: Australian Poetry, Writers Victoria, Express Media (for young writers), independent publishers collective SPUNC, and the Melbourne chapter of PEN.

What does having the designation mean? Read on and on.