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Literary Norwich McEwan credit David Kirkham UEA


10 reasons why Norwich is a UNESCO City of Literature

Listen up: we all know Norwich is an amazing city full of gems, but what makes it such a deserving UNESCO City of Literature - and, in fact, the first in the UK? Read on for our top 10 reasons...


Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416), one of Europe's great mystics wrote Revelations of Divine Love in an anchorite cell in Norwich and was the first woman to be published in English. This cell can be seen today in St Julian's church opposite WCN's new premises Dragon Hall.


Britain’s first and most famous MA Creative Writing was founded in Norwich at the University of East Anglia in 1970 by Malcolm Bradbury and Angus Wilson. The first student was Ian McEwan, who went on to win the Man Booker Prize, followed by Kazuo Ishiguro and Anne Enright.


Norwich is home to the oldest city arts festival in the country—the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Every year Writers' Centre Norwich programmes the City of Literature Festival including an annual lecture about Harriet Martineau.


 The British Centre for Literary Translation was founded in Norwich in 1989 by one of Europe’s greatest writers WG (Max) Sebald. He taught at UEA from 1969 until his sudden death in 2001.


Norwich was the first provincial city to establish a municipal library in 1608.


The first provisional newspaper was established in Norwich in 1701.


It was the first city to implement the Public Library Act of 1850.


Today the city’s Millennium Library has issued the highest number of books of any library in the UK for 5 years running (according to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy).


There are 27 independent publishers based in Norwich (and eight more in the county). This represents 5% of the UK’s independent publishing sector and relative to the region’s low population, a higher percentage than anywhere else in the country outside of London.


In 2006 Norwich became the first (and is still the only) UK city to join the International Cities of Refuge Network which was formed to promote free speech and support imperilled writers. 

Very well deserved, eh!

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Image: Ian McEwan, credit David Kirkham