Manchester, England, UK

Manchester became the 26th UNESCO City of Literature in October 2017, on the same day as Bucheon (South Korea), Durban (South Africa), Lillehammer (Norway), Milan (Italy), Utrecht (Netherlands), Québec City (Canada) and Seattle (USA) joined the existing 20 Cities of Literature in the Creative Cities Network.

Manchester is a major city in the northwest of England, and is known worldwide as the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Its innovations include pioneering free public libraries, the launch of the cooperative movement, and the recent discovery of graphene. With a population of 540,000, Manchester is a diverse city, with 91 ethnic groups and an estimated 200 languages spoken.

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Literature has always been a force for change and innovation in the city, celebrated as having a transformative impact upon Manchester’s development as well as its people. The city has a thriving community of writers, translators, publishers, librarians, creative writing teachers, editors and arts professionals. Writing and translator groups such as The North-West Translators’ Network and the Manchester Muslim Writers Group serve to broaden the reach of literature within its community.

Manchester has a strong connection to a number of local and international authors: Engels and Marx worked together in Manchester at Chetham’s Library; Elizabeth Gaskell wrote her campaigning novels there; The Pankhurst Centre celebrates the polemic writings of Suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst; and Lemn Sissay’s poems are inscribed upon the streets of the Northern Quarter.

The Manchester Literature Festival has taken place in the city since 2006, showcasing contemporary writing from around the world. Events include visits from major writers, panel discussions, emerging voices, working with children and young people, and a range of unique commissions. As well as this, there are popular neighbourhood literature festivals such as Chorlton Book Festival, which is led by the local library in partnership with schools, the independent bookshop, a local poetry collective, pubs, and local cultural venues.