In 2008, Melbourne joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network when it was designated the first and only City of Literature in Australia, and the second in the world.

Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature is acknowledgment of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of the city’s literary culture. Melbourne supports a diverse range of writers, a prosperous publishing industry, a successful culture of independent bookselling, a wide variety of literary organisations and a healthy culture of reading and engagement in events and festivals.

The designation was made in recognition of the following factors, amongst others:

  • The quality, quantity and diversity of publishing and editorial initiatives in Melbourne;
  • The quality and quantity of educational programmes in Melbourne;
  • Melbourne’s urban environment in which literature is integral;
  • Melbourne’s experience at hosting literary events and festivals, and promoting foreign and domestic texts;
  • Melbourne’s libraries, bookstores and cultural centres; and
  • The use of new media in Melbourne to promote and strengthen the literary market.

But, as Peter Carey said, "Melbourne has always been a city of literature".