Edinburgh hosts the world’s largest book festival of its kind, every August, featuring over 800 writers from around the world.
The first book printed in Scotland was made in Edinburgh in 1508.
The city has over 50 bookshops, from antiquarian specialists to havens for fans of comics and graphic novels.
The world’s first purpose-built poetry library opened in Edinburgh in 1999.
Edinburgh is home to the only train station named after a book. Waverley station is now adorned with quotations from its author, Sir Walter Scott, thanks to the Edinburgh City of Literature project Great Scott!
COLLABORATION WITH OTHER CITIES
LITERARY PROGRAMMERS DELEGATION
In 2018 Edinburgh worked with Melbourne City of Literature to bring seven literary programmers from Australia to Scotland. The group covered a range of programming skills, from libraries and bookshops to community and digital work, looking at ways of making new connections and sharing best practice internationally.
During their trip, the delegates met with practitioners from around Edinburgh, forging connections which have already resulted in collaborative projects. Their visit was timed with Edinburgh International Book Festival, which provided the perfect base to explore how international conversations around literature could be formed and presented.
As part of the programme designed around the visit, discussion groups were held with Scottish programmers looking at issues including: marketing, diversity, inclusivity and budgets. Edinburgh City of Literature facilitated conversation with key industry figures and arranged access to performances which covered a range of formats, including The Hidden – an interactive show which took place in Edinburgh’s Central Library – which could be toured internationally or shared digitally.
The delegates were also taken to Glasgow City of Music and Dundee City of Design to talk about cross-platform work and the possibilities of working with other Creative Cities.
Literary programmers from Edinburgh will make the return trip to Melbourne in 2020, following a similar model.
LET'S GET LYRICAL
In 2011 Edinburgh City of Literature coordinated Let’s Get Lyrical, which was the first cross-artform collaboration between UNESCO Creative Cities. Initiated by Edinburgh in collaboration with Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, Let’s Get Lyrical dedicated the month of February 2011 to celebrating the power of song lyrics. It brought together 69 partners to deliver a programme of 86 events in 28 days across Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The project included creating cards and bookmarks featuring lines from songs that appeared in libraries and cafes around the city, encouraging people to think about the lyrics they love. High-profile writers, including Ian Rankin, chose lyrics that had influenced them, and a dynamic programme of events created new ways to explore and enjoy the poetry of song.
Let’s Get Lyrical followed on from the success of Edinburgh City of Literature’s previous citywide reading campaign Carry a Poem: fronted by Alan Cumming, the promotion saw poetry projected, animated, discussed, recited, read and carried around Edinburgh.
Edinburgh International Book Festival is the world’s largest book festival of its kind, and a major part of the city’s August festival celebrations. Founded in 1983, it programmes over 900 events for all ages, including the incredibly popular Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme. The Book Festival’s unique setting adds to its special quality: set in Charlotte Square Gardens, in the heart of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town, the festival creates a village of tented venues which attracts over 200,000 visitors a year.
Edinburgh is also home to a Radical Book Fair and the world-leading Scottish International Storytelling Festival, with the satellite town of Dunbar hosting Coastword, an eclectic festival that brings together writers, poets and musicians.
Edinburgh has hosted a number of residencies since becoming a UNESCO City of Literature, with partners around the city offering year-round options for visiting writers.
The University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) offers a year-round fellowship programme, while Cove Park – on the west coast of Scotland – offers a full programme of residency opportunities.
In 2018 Edinburgh City of Literature launched the first Lord Provost’s International Residency, in association with Edinburgh’s Partner City Krakow. A writer from our network’s Polish City of Literature will be invited to spend November in the world’s first City of Literature, staying in a literary-themed hotel suite, with office space at the University of Edinburgh. The residency is supported by Krakow City of Literature, City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, Creative Scotland, IASH and Edinburgh’s Lord Provost.