Melburnians consume more books, magazines and newspapers per capita than any other city in Australia and enjoy the highest concentration of community book clubs in the country.
More Victorians read for pleasure than in any other state. Since the Victorian Premiers' Reading Challenge began in 2005, more than 3.5 million students have turned the pages of over 54 million books.
Melbourne is home to Australia’s oldest public library State Library of Victoria. Founded in 1854, it was the first major cultural institution to be established in Melbourne and now attracts over 1.9 million visitors annually.
Cole’s Book Arcade, opened by E.W. Cole, was reputed to be one of the world’s largest bookshops at the turn of the twentieth century. Boasting two million stocked books, it came to the attention of visiting international luminaries such as Mark Twain.
One of Australia’s earlier bestsellers, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume, was published in 1886. It is a murder mystery set in the city, and went on to sell over half a million copies worldwide and has been adapted for film several times.
COLLABORATION WITH OTHER CITIES
In 2022, Melbourne and Heidelberg partnered to launch the 'Expedition Poetry' program, an online writers' room that connects poets from both cities through the translation of their respective works. Ten poets from Melbourne and Heidelberg meet virtually, partaking in translation workshops, meetings, and discussions. The poets exchange, collaborate and engage on original works and translations.
The program's outcomes will culminate in the presentation of the translated works during Heidelberg Literature Days 2023, with the poems and their translations accessible through a digital publication and an online launch event.
Its online format provides a great opportunity for poets to bridge physical distance and reap the benefits of international collaboration and foster potential collaboration between the two cities.
INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMMERS ROUNDTABLE
The International Literary Programmers Roundtable combines the highlights of visiting Melbourne with a range of professional opportunities for delegates. Six people from literary organisations based within UNESCO Creative Cities and 6 delegates from Melbourne’s literary sector will participate in this program.
Delegates will network and exchange best practice ideas, meet Australian publishers and local literary organisations, enjoy events and gatherings and, of course, get to know Melbourne, a UNESCO City of Literature.
This program will connect organisations interested in showcasing Australian writers in their programs and creating cultural partnerships with Australia. The program also aims to provide opportunities for smaller literary organisations not already well-represented on the international travel circuit.
VIRTUAL WRITERS IN RESIDENCE
Launched in 2020, Melbourne's Virtual Writers in Residence is an annual program that hosts 10 writers from fellow UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature. Each writer undertakes a virtual residency with a Melbourne host organisation and produce three different outcomes.
The Melbourne City of Literature Office has partnered with a diverse range of host organisations, which have included libraries, writers' collectives, charities, and literary organisations. This initiative aims to connect writers with each other and with citizens, to inspire, to build relationships and networks, and to lay the groundwork for collaborations in the field of literature.
Melbourne City of Literature Office is excited to keep hosting excellent writers from all over the world with host organisations that exemplify the city’s literary community.
Melbourne Writers Festival is Melbourne’s annual, two-week celebration for everyone who reads. The festival, which is over 30 years old, includes events for people of all ages and more than a quarter of the program is free.
The Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) develops, nurtures, and promotes Australia’s new writing talent, creating platforms for connecting writing communities and their audiences. It used to run the Digital Writers’ Festival (DWF) but has since incorporated digital programming into its festival.
Melbourne's calendar of festival offerings caters to readers interested in a variety of genres, forms and niches, as seen in Williamstown Literary Festival, Freeplay, and Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
This extends to our regional areas as well: Bendigo Writers Festival, Clunes Booktown Festival, Mildura Writers Festival, Woodend Winter Arts Festival, Castlemaine State Festival, Q-Lit, Mountain Writers Festival, Fishy Stories: Fish Creek Children’s Festival of Stories and Words in Winter.