Literary Community of Edinburgh Marks 10 Years as a UNESCO City of Literature

‘A remarkable thing … something like an Enlightenment. What an achievement!’ – Alexander McCall Smith

Edinburgh City Chambers was filled with literary light last night (30th March) as Lord Provost, the Rt Hon Donald Wilson, hosted a reception to mark 10 years of Edinburgh being designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Over 150 guests from all corners of the literary community came together to mark the occasion, including global bestselling Edinburgh writers Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin and Edinburgh Makar Christine De Luca.

Announcing the marking of the anniversary of the designation in several projects across the city, the Lord Provost, the Rt Hon Donald Wilson said: ‘A City of Literature is a living breathing thing and there is so much going on – some big things like literary benches in the Lawnmarket and the floral clock being planted to mark ten years of Edinburgh as a City of Literature, some small like the Free to Fly paper sculpture, gifted to the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust by the mystery paper sculptor, going on display soon in the City Chambers. All these things, and the many, many more that happen every day are making sure that this is a City of Literature both in the past, now and in the future.’

Jenny Brown, one of the founding Trustees of the City of Literature, recalled the heady night in Paris when the designation was announced and how it has brought the literary community even closer together to achieve world firsts like the Gaelic and Scots language graphic novel editions of Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson for the One Book, One Edinburgh project. A new literature hub on the Royal Mile to provide a year-round presence for the designation was announced by Abigail Carney, Chair of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, and Edinburgh Makar Christine De Luca read Edinburgh Gifts, a poem commissioned to be given as a Civic Gift by the Lord Provost, and Through the Traffic of Tongues, commissioned to mark the 10th anniversary of the designation.

You can watch an interview with Alexander McCall Smith on STV Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge Show about what Edinburgh as a City of Literature means to him here.