Edinburgh celebrates tenth anniversary as a UNESCO City of Literature

Edinburgh celebrated ten years as a UNESCO designated Creative City of Literature with a reception hosted by Lord Provost, the Rt Hon Donald Wilson at its City Chambers on 30 March. The event attracted over 150 guests, including Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith, who announced that the designation was a “remarkable thing…like an enlightenment. What an achievement!”

The event opened a year-long calendar of events to celebrate the city’s rich literary history, which include the creation of two public urban gardens inspired by literature, and a book sculpture by an unknown paper artist to be displayed in the Council’s City Chambers. In his speech, the Rt Hon Donald Wilson said: ‘‘A City of Literature is a living breathing thing and there is so much going on – some big things like literary benches in the Lawnmarket and the floral clock being planted to mark ten years of Edinburgh as a City of Literature, some small like the Free to Fly paper sculpture… All these things, and the many, many more that happen every day are making sure that this is a City of Literature both in the past, now and in the future.”

The city’s Royal Mile is set to have a literature hub built on it to give the designation a permanent presence. Abigail Carney, Chair of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust read two poems commissioned for the occasion: Through the Traffic of Tongues. She was joined by Edinburgh Makar, or official poet, Christine De Luca, who read a second commissioned piece – Edinburgh Gifts – set to be given as a Civic Gift by the Lord Provost to the city. Later on, founding members of the City of Literature team reflected on successes achieved through designation so far, such as the world’s first Gaelic and Scots language graphic novels of works by Robert Louis Stevenson for the city One Book project.