Melbourne is the capital of the state of Victoria and is Australia’s second-largest city, with a population of four million. It is widely viewed as being Australia’s cultural capital.
Melbourne is built upon land traditionally belonging to the people of the Kulin nation. Indigenous people have been telling their stories for over 40,000 years – carving rocks, painting on bark and drawing on possum skin cloaks long before books arrived on the first boats – and passing on their stories by oral traditions. Today, local Indigenous literature is a vital expression of an enduring Indigenous culture in Melbourne.
Melbourne’s writers are supported by a robust publishing environment, including a large number of independent and small publishers and by the public’s broad participation in literature – as readers, writers and audiences at events and festivals.
The internationally renowned novelist and twice Booker Prize-winning author Peter Carey was born in Melbourne. Australia’s two foremost 19th-century novelists were Rolf Boldrewood (Thomas Browne) and Marcus Clarke, who both lived and at times wrote in Melbourne. The most famous of Melbourne’s early poets is CJ Dennis. Awarding-winning contemporary authors writing books set in Melbourne include Christos Tsiolkas, Elliot Perlman, Helen Garner, Emily Bitto, Clare Wright and Nam Le.
Specific highlights of Melbourne as a City of Literature are:
- The city is home to an array of literary organisations, including:
- Melbourne is the home for writers, independent publishers and bookstores in Australia.
- The city has been home to some Australia’s greatest writers, past and present, including Marcus Clarke, CJ Dennis, Peter Carey, Helen Garner, Christos Tsiolkas and Nam Le, to name just a few.
- Melburnians consume more books, magazines and newspapers per capita than residents of any other city in Australia, and enjoy the highest concentration of community book clubs in the country.
- Melbourne is home to Australia’s oldest public library, the 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.
- There are 289 local libraries in Victoria, with 2.5 million members who borrow around 50 million items each year. Almost half of all Victorians are library members.
- Writer’s festivals and events occur across the state. Clunes, in regional Victoria, is the only International Booktown in the southern hemisphere.
- Victorians of all ages are avid readers. More Victorians read for pleasure than residents of any other state. And last year, over 230,000 children participated in the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge, reading more than four million books.
As you explore the associated category tabs, you’ll discover there is much to see, do and experience in our City of Literature.