Welcome to Norwich UNESCO City of Literature, a city of stories

Norwich has been a literary city for over 900 years: a place of ideas where the power of words has changed lives

Norwich was designated England’s first UNESCO City of Literature in 2012

What is a UNESCO City of Literature?

Launched by UNESCO in 2004, the Creative Cities Network was established to promote cooperation among cities that place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans.

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Why Norwich?

Norwich has been a literary city for over 900 years: a place of ideas where the power of words has changed lives, promoted parliamentary democracy, fomented revolution, fought for the abolition of slavery and transformed literature.

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900 years of stories

Creative activity has always sprung from native roots and Norwich famously follows its own instincts. But this cultural wellspring has been fed over nine centuries by an influx of outsiders who have brought in new ideas, new technologies and new talent.

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Visit Dragon Hall, NCW’s Literature House

National Centre for Writing’s Literature House is based in Dragon Hall, a fascinating medieval building in the heart of Norwich UNESCO City of Literature. We are free to visit.

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The City of Literature weekend

Since 2013, National Centre for Writing has worked together with Norfolk & Norwich Festival to programme a ‘City of Literature’ strand of books, words and ideas into their annual programme.

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International Literature Exchange

ILX brings literature professionals together to learn, exchange expertise and experience, devise collaborations, and build international networks. The programme is a partnership with British Council, supported by Arts Council England.

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Take a literary walking tour of Norwich

Discover Norwich of the past, present, and future through Wandering Words, a self-led walking tour featuring poems from five brilliant writers.

Experience the city with fresh eyes, encountering the people and locations that inspired each writers’ work.

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Explore real and imagined Norwich through writing by resident and visiting artists

Through our Walking Norwich programme, we invite you to walk with the writers who were born or drawn here, to experience their Norwich and discover the layers of stories embedded in the city.

You can pick up a free print edition from our shop, or explore the online versions below.

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Norwich exemplifies the crucial role played by Cities of Literature in community well-being, growth, and sustainability.

UNESCO City of Literature report

Norwich Book Benches

Discover the brand-new Norwich Book Benches, inspired by famous authors and literary works from our county.

Each bench gives you the opportunity to stop and take a moment, watch people walk by, read a book, enjoying the historical elements of the city whilst learning and enhancing our knowledge of great writers with Norwich connections.

These benches form part of the EXPERIENCE project, partnering with Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and Norwich Business Improvement District (BID).

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Imagining the City

An ongoing programme of digital exchanges, fostering connections between Norwich writers and the UNESCO Cities of Literature network, with the aim of strengthening the links between cities, exploring shared concerns, and spotlighting places of literary importance.

We’ve had several iterations of this programme, featuring writers from Québec, Dublin, Dunedin, and more.

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Translating Science

An experiment and collaboration between the National Centre for Writing and Norwich Research Park which saw writers and scientists paired together to create new writing.

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Norwich is a fine city. None finer. If there is another city in the United Kingdom with a school of painters named after it, a matchless modern art gallery, a university with a reputation for literary excellence which can boast Booker Prize-winning alumni, one of the grandest Romanesque cathedrals in the world, and an extraordinary new state-of-the-art library then I have yet to hear of it.

Stephen Fry

Explore more of Norwich UNESCO City of Literature

Discover the people, events, organisations and independent businesses that make Norwich the ideal place for writers to live, think and dream.

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Carousel images:

Kumkum Malhotra at the City of Literature strand of Norfolk & Norwich Festival © Thom Law

Hanya Yanagihara at UEA Live © Joanna Millington

View of Norwich from Mousehold Heath © VisitNorwich