About UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature


It’s the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, set up in 1945 with the aim of ‘Building peace in the minds of men and women’, through encouraging nations and individuals to work together not just economically or politically, but on scientific, creative and cultural levels, the ‘basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity’.

What is UNESCO?



What is a City of Literature?

Part of the Creative Cities Network, a UNESCO City of Literature is one that can demonstrate:

  • Quality, quantity and diversity of editorial initiatives and publishing houses
  • Quality and quantity of educational programmes focusing on domestic or foreign literature in primary and secondary schools as well as universities
  • Urban environment in which literature, drama and/or poetry play an integral role
  • Experience in hosting literary events and festivals aiming at promoting domestic and foreign literature
  • Libraries, bookstores and public or private cultural centres dedicated to the preservation, promotion and dissemination of domestic and foreign literature
  • Active effort by the publishing sector to translate literary works from diverse national languages and foreign literature
  • Active involvement of media, including new media, in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products.



UNESCO didn’t drop a huge cheque into our lap when we got the accolade. It’s what we do with the title that makes the difference. It puts Nottingham on the map as a city that swells with talent, attracting investment, tourism, students to the universities and many other benefits. It’s recognition of what we know, but those not from Nottingham may not: we are vibrant, we are creatively excellent.

What benefits does it bring?



That’s hardly in the spirit of UNESCO’s mission statement now, is it? It’s not a battle to find who will host the title, like the Olympics or City of Culture. It’s a permanent, non-competitive designation, much like a World Heritage site. The Pyramids didn’t have to skirmish with the Giant’s Causeway to get its recognition. Though that does sound like fun.

Who were we competing against?



Who else has the accolade?

Edinburgh, Scotland (2004)

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (2008)

Iowa City, Iowa, United States (2008)

Dublin, Ireland (2010)

Reykjavík, Iceland (2011)

Norwich, England (2012)

Kraków, Poland (2013)

Heidelberg, Germany (2014)

Dunedin, New Zealand (2014)

Granada, Spain (2014)

Prague, Czech Republic (2014)

Baghdad, Iraq (2015)

Barcelona, Spain (2015)

Ljubljana, Slovenia (2015)

Lviv, Ukraine (2015)

Montevideo, Uruguay (2015)

Óbidos, Portugal (2015)

Tartu, Estonia (2015)

Ulyanovsk, Russia (2015)



Who is
supporting you?

Hopefully everyone! We have direct funding from:

  • Arts Council England;
  • Nottingham City Council;
  • Nottingham Trent University and The University of Nottingham.

We are helped and supported by:

  • Bromley House Library
  • DH Lawrence Heritage
  • Experience Nottinghamshire
  • Five Leaves Bookshop
  • Game City
  • Lakeside Arts
  • LeftLion
  • Literacy Volunteers
  • Midlands Three Cities
  • Mouthy Poets 
  • Nottingham Writers’ Studio
  • Nottingham Asian Arts Council
  • Nottingham Playhouse
  • Nottingham Creative Quarter
  • Nottingham Asian Arts Council
  • One Nottingham
  • Page 45
  • The Nottingham Post
  • The Russell Press
  • Writing East Midlands


We have ninepatrons: local businessman and renowned philanthropist Sir Harry Djanogly; actor Vicky McClure; screenwriter Billy Ivory; poet Panya Banjoko ; playwrights Michael Eaton and Amanda Whittington; novelist Alison Moore; author John Harvey; TV producer Henry Normal; with playwright Stephen Lowe as president.