Nottingham became a UNESCO City of Literature in December 2015, one of only 20 cities around the world recognised by UNESCO for the sheer quality and quantity of literary excellence.


“Building a better world with words” is our motto: we recognise that words can be truly transformative. Nottingham has always excelled at realising this: from the world-changing lines of Byron through to our present poetry scene; from DH Lawrence’s questioning of convention through to the Sleaford Mods splenetic rage; we have a vernacular unique.


“The UNESCO accreditation will boost our profile on the international stage as a city with a rich literary past, a vibrant contemporary scene and a very exciting future – a future where Nottingham becomes a leading cultural destination for the enjoyment and study of literature.”



We have plans for the future to ensure that Nottingham makes the most of the title; to keep being a powerhouse of invention and imagination. To inspire writers to write, to inspire all to read. To celebrate and promote the diversity of our city, and the way it absorbs, synthesises and turns out art that keeps the streets vibrant.




‘Storysmash’ libraries project receives Arts Council funding

An innovative project that will see Nottingham City Council’s Libraries Service work with The National Videogame Foundation to improve literacy and digital skills has been given £226,235 Arts Council England (ACE) funding.



With so much poem-based activity cracking off in Nottingham city centre and its immediate suburbs, the less than astute observer can miss what is going off across the wider county. Hand Job Zine's Sophie Pitchford explains what they did about that.

Freak Zine - Hand Job to Hi-Vis



First Story

The first student on stage is evidentially nervous. Beforehand, she is huddled with fellow teenagers who are telling her she will be ok. Eventually, she makes her way to the stage, flanked by her friends, and addresses the watching crowd. She takes a second to speak, and her nerves causes a false start. A friend gives her a reassuring pat on the shoulder, and she begins again, strongly: “Your life will be changed” she says “This is the only place where I have seen my dreams become a reality”.



Notts writers for younger readers: Ten of our favourites

To mark World Book Day, we thought we’d put together a list of some of the local writers who have inspired young readers to learn to love reading, and perhaps to pick up a pen themselves.



Hidden Gem: Eastwood, Lawrence, and ‘The Country of My Heart’

Travel north from Nottingham and you soon reach the parts of the shire that allowed the city to thrive: coal country, once a sprawl of headstocks and slagheaps; now a soft sporadically wooded countryside where only the strange shaped hills and evocative street names give lie to the black-dusted past. Here, you will find Eastwood. And here, in this former colliery town, you will find the latest addition to Visit England’s ‘Hidden Gems’ roster.



Krakow UNESCO City of Literature launch a new Writer Residency Programme

Krakow UNESCO City of Literature is launching its very own residency programme for young and emerging writers! The Krakow UNESCO City of Literature Residency Programme is dedicated to young and emerging writers from the Cities of Literature of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Modelled on the highly successful and wonderful Prague residency, the Krakow programme is designed for writers between the ages of 25-45 from the Cities of Literature.



Nottingham meets Lviv: Part 1

"My early impression of Ukraine was indistinguishable from my early impression of the rest of the USSR. If you’d asked me to describe it, I would have given you a snowblown, industrial vista bristling with warheads and failing reactors. Had you asked me about its people, I would likely have described the pixelated figures dancing a gopak when you complete the B-Mode of Tetris."


Rebecca Goldsmith.jpg

Meet Rebecca Goldsmith

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Rebecca Goldsmith as a freelance consultant and writer working on a very special project to develop Dawn of the Unread as a literacy engagement tool. We decided to find out more about the talented woman and her hopes and plans for the future.



Become a Volunteer

We run an internship and student placement programme with our partners, Nottingham Trent University to provide experience to students in the fields of literature programming, digital marketing and communications.



Light Fantastic

friday 10th feb 2017
6:00PM - 9:00PM

On Friday 10th February, Nottingham illuminates for the annual Light Night. For the first time, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature will be there with a very special takeaway on offer…



Nottingham's lesser known literary history: Eight Oddities

We have a rich history of literature in Nottingham, with our writers laying down a body of work full of vigour, verve and verisimilitude. The stories of our writers are known internationally; the swashbuckling Byron; the scandal-causing Lawrence; the whatever-you-think-I-am-I’m-not of Alan Sillitoe. But we have a fair dose of weird in the mix. We thought we’d dig up some choice nuggets of strange to make you see the city in a different light.



My First 100 Days: Sandeep Mahal

Sandeep Mahal became our first Director at Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature in Septemeber 2016. Here, she tells us about her first (very busy) 100 days in the role, and her hopes and plans for the future.



The Lord of Milan

Robert Nieri didn’t set out to write a novel, which is fitting. His subject matter, Herbert Kilpin, probably didn’t set out to create one of the most famous football clubs in the world. But somehow, the spirit of creativity that surges through this city led to both these outcomes.



The closure of the Central Library on Angel Row is not new news. The plan to redevelop the library appeared in the governing party’s manifesto and was discussed in Nottingham’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature. Nobody can doubt the City Council’s continuing commitment to our library service, which was one of the reasons for our bid’s success. How to replace the library at a time of unparalleled political crisis and continuing austerity is a huge challenge. The City of Literature will offer all the support we can and act as a critical friend, arguing for the widest access possible and improved services. Libraries are our life blood. We have every confidence that the City Council will continue to put library provision at the heart of their mission and the development of a new Central Library can only be seen as a positive outcome for Nottingham’s Literature status.

— David Belbin, Chair of Nottingham City of Literature

Our response to the news of Central Library's closure



Voices of Jewish and Muslim writers

This was a rare night in November Nottingham when Exiled Writers Ink came, originally, from Iran, Israel, Bangladesh and the hills of Iraqi Kurdistan, to give voice to Jewish and Muslim writers. ‘It was a good gig,’ remarked Michael Mehrdad Zand Ahanchian, born a jew in Iran,who has spent most of his life in the United Kingdom, now drilling down into civil wars and turbulence that lie buried deep in most places. Up the road from George Street, where Michael shared his astranomical verse, Standard Hill records an English King’s fatal mistakes.



Sandeep Mahal

It’s my first day at Nottingham City of Literature and I would like to use the first of my regular blogs to introduce myself.