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UNESCO City of Literature

Learn why Melbourne's literary scene is recognised by UNESCO.  

Three people sitting at tables reading books at library

Melbourne - City of Literature

As the second city to be designated a UNESCO City of LiteratureOpens in new tab, Melbourne is internationally recognised for its vast literary heritage and culture.

The city supports diverse writers, a prosperous publishing industry, a successful culture of independent bookselling, a wide variety of literary organisations and a healthy culture of reading and engagement in events and festivals.

Here are some quick reasons why Melbourne is a leading City of Literature:

  • Melbourne is the home of writers, independent publishers, and award-winning bookstores and libraries in Australia.
  • The city has been home to some Australia’s greatest writers, past and present, including Marcus Clarke, CJ Dennis, Peter Carey, Helen Garner, Christos Tsiolkas and Nam Le, to name just a few.
  • Melburnians consume more books, magazines and newspapers per capita than residents of any other city in Australia and enjoy the highest concentration of community book clubs in the country.
  • Melbourne is home to Australia’s oldest public library, the State Library of Victoria. Founded in 1854, it was the first major cultural institution to be established in Melbourne and now attracts more than two million visitors annually.
  • The City of Melbourne offers outstanding public libraries that lend more than one million print, audio and ebooks, and deliver more than 2000 free events to more than 50,000 participants, every year. We also run the prestigious Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards.
  • Cole’s Book ArcadeOpens in new tab, opened by E.W Cole, was reputed to be one of the world’s largest bookshop at the turn of the twentieth century. Boasting two million books, it came to the attention of visiting international luminaries such as Mark Twain.

And there is always something happening in Melbourne about books, writing and ideas. Be it a beloved festival, events at the Wheeler Centre, author talks in our bookshops or podcasts from our libraries.

To find out what’s on, visit the City of Literature websiteOpens in new tab.

Two people going up State Library Victoria entrance stairs and statue

Explore Melbourne's literary culture

Visit the Melbourne – City of Literature websiteOpens in new tab and discover there is much to see, do and experience in our City of Literature.

Contact the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office


The Wheeler Centre
176 Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000


03 9094 7894

our acknowledgement

  • Torres Strait Islander Flag
  • Aboriginal People Flag

The City of Melbourne respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land we govern, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong / Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin and pays respect to their Elders past and present. 


We acknowledge and honour the unbroken spiritual, cultural and political connection they have maintained to this unique place for more than 2000 generations.

We accept the invitation in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and are committed to walking together to build a better future.