In joining this elite group of world cities renowned for their literary output, Norwich is the sixth city to receive city of literature status after Edinburgh, Melbourne, Iowa, Dublin and Reykjavik.
Norwich has a literary tradition which goes back 900 years and is home to an outstanding amount of firsts in literary history: the first published book by a woman (Julian of Norwich), the first recognisable novel, the first blank verse, the first provincial library and newspaper and the first British MA in Creative Writing at our own University of East Anglia.
Norwich is also home to the busiest and most used public library in the country for the last five years; an astonishing feat considering library use is generally dwindling and resources are neglected by the government.
The city is also home to the Writers‘ Centre Norwich, who led the bid, as well as the British Centre for Literary Translation and the world famous creative writing program at UEA.
The Writers’ Centre explained: “The city of literature status is designated through Unesco’s Creative Cities Network which aims to harness the creativity of cities by sharing ideas and best practice for artistic, social and economic development through culture.
“The status is permanent and was won after a bidding process led by Writers’ Centre Norwich that involved writers, readers and key partners including Arts Council England, Norwich City Council, University of East Anglia, Norfolk County Council, the British Centre for Literary Translation and others.”
The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Edward Acton, said: “I am delighted that Norwich is to be recognised at this very highest level. It is tremendous news for the city, the University and the region. This international honour will reinforce UEA’s world-renown as a centre for literary excellence.”