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 Premiers Reading Challenge began 14 years ago, more than 2.5 million students have turned the pages of nearly 45 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
Sleipnir Travels is a Children’s literacy web tool that shows the journey of the mythical horse Sleipnir between two Cities (with stops in between!) and enables children to write short flash fiction about its journey. On Sleipnir’s journey between the Cities children are encouraged to write postcards from Sleipnir, describing Sleipnir’s adventures in the Cities he is visiting, which are publishable (and email-able) directly from the website.
On his arrival the host City provides their own programming. On his first adventure Sleipnir travelled to Bendigo Writers Festival where the Festival held a week of in-school Creative Writing workshops using Sleipnir as well as making him a feature of their Children’s Day!
Sleipnir is well-known in Norse mythology as the eight-legged horse of the god, Odin. Sleipnir carried Odin throughout the Nine Worlds, and is said to be the best of all horses. He has contemporary significance because eight-legged horses are still spoken of in several cultures for their ability to cross between dimensions, and even deliver the dead to the underworld.
Since 2012, Reykjavík City of Literature has associated the figure of Sleipnir with initiatives aimed to get more children and young adults to read. Examples of these projects include the Children’s Culture Festival, the annual Reykjavík City Library Summer Reading, and upcoming programs destined for schools, daycares and libraries.
Melbourne City of Literature is excited to be partnering with Reyjkavik to extend Sleipnir’s journeys throughout the world – first stop, Australia! Next stop?
Where is Sleipnir today? Go here to find out
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. EWF also presents the Digital Writers' Festival, which, though it is run from Melbourne, helps to overcome barriers to participation and includes writers from all over Australia in a unique online-only program.
The Feminist Writers Festival was established in 2016 to support and promote women’s writing through its biannual festival and ongoing events program throughout the year.
Melbourne's calendar of festival offerings caters to readers interested in a variety of genres, forms and niches, as seen in the Fitzroy Children’s Literature Festival, Williamstown Literary Festival, Continuum, Reading Matters, Freeplay and Word for Word.
This extends to our regional areas as well: Bendigo Writers Festival, Clunes Booktown Festival, Mildura Writers Festival, Newstead Short Story Tattoo, Woodend Winter Arts Festival, Ex Libris Port Fairy Festival of Words, Castlemaine Children’s Literature Festival, and Words in Winter.