Manchester, UNESCO City of Literature: Culture and the Sustainable City

Professor Jess Edwards
Tuesday, 26 April 2022 - 6:00pm

The Percival Lecture — Members only

Members of the Manchester Lit & Phil are welcome to bring a guest to this event.

If you are unable to attend the event, please make sure that you cancel your place in order for someone else to attend. Instructions on how to cancel tickets are on the FAQ page of the Lit & Phil website.

*Bookings closes at 5:00pm on Tuesday 19th April to provide the MMU catering team with sufficient notice of numbers*

Event timetable

Attendees are welcome to arrive at the venue at 6:00pm for refreshments.

Professor Edward's talk will start at 6:30pm and will end at approx. 7:30pm.

Professor Edward's talk will be followed by a buffet. Attendees will also be able to browse the Poetry Library, which will be open until 8:30pm


Event synopsis

In 2017, a joint bid from Manchester City Council, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester was successful in gaining Manchester UNESCO Creative City status as a City of Literature. The case made in the bid was that Manchester deserves recognition not just for its literary heritage, but for the vibrancy of literature in the city in the present day, and for the diversity of its literary cultures, past and present.

In researching the bid, it was discovered that the sheer diversity of literary activity meant that organisations and artists tended to work in isolation from one another. Furthermore, few residents of Manchester could appreciate or benefit from the richness of literary activity all around them.

Since then, the partners have established an independent charitable organisation to lead the engagement of Manchester with the global UNESCO Creative Cities Network: Manchester City of Literature. The charity also co-ordinates the activities of a network of organisations within the city around shared values, goals and projects.

At the end of 2021 Manchester City of Literature submitted its first four-year report to UNESCO summarising its achievements and setting out the road ahead. At this watershed moment for Manchester’s Creative City designation, Professor Jess Edwards' lecture reflects on the assets that earned Manchester this designation, and on the potential for literature to contribute here and elsewhere to the UNESCO goal of sustainable cities and communities.


About the speaker

Jess Edwards is Professor of Place Writing and has been Head of the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University since 2011. His department incorporates the Manchester Writing School, the largest Writing school in the UK, whose Creative Director is former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Professor Edward's own research deals with the relationship between literature and place, and most recently has focused on the public life of literature, from users of a literary 'sense of place' in landscape planning and policy, to the place of poetry within UK secondary education. Professor Edwards leads Manchester Met's contribution to the Manchester City of Literature Project, and led on the development of the Manchester Poetry Library, which opened to the public in 2021: the fourth such library in the UK and the only one to be located in a University.

Image credit: International Mother Language Day 2019 at Longsight Library. Photo credit Daniel Morrell


*Registration for this event will close on Tuesday 19th April*

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