Norwich - city of literature

Rowan Whiteside of the Writers’ Centre Norwich on enjoying the city's literary heritage.

Visitors to Norwich will immediately notice the city's stunning architecture, the winding cobbled streets, the bustling city centre with the brightly coloured market square and the many church spires reaching towards the clouds. Less immediately visible, but no less powerful is Norwich's fine literary scene.

Norwich is England's first UNESCO City of Literature, one of only six in the world and for very good reason. Others include Dublin, Melbourne and Reykjavik. Writers' Centre Norwich led the UNESCO bid, and holds events with big name writers (Martin Amis, Will Self, AS Byatt, JM Coetzee to name but a few), puts on writers' workshops and has a website packed with historical facts and resources.

Just up the road, in the centre of Norwich sits the Forum, a curved glass building, where you will find the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library - the most popular library in the country for the sixth year running! The Forum is a popular venue with a real buzz and a great place to get your literary and social bearings and it also houses the Norwich Tourist Information Centre, so you can pick up a map there at the same time.

It is very easy to while away many happy hours in Norwich's bookshops, whether you're visiting Waterstones, the award-winning independent shop The Book Hive, Jarrold department store, or one of the fantastic second-hand booksellers in the city. Be warned that your suitcase might be filled with books for your journey home though!

Travel a little further out of the city to visit the University of East Anglia, home to the British Centre for Literary Translation. The campus has welcomed many brilliant writers over the years, from those who have visited fleetingly to appear at the UEA Literary Festival, to those who have lived and written at the University. Malcolm Bradbury established the first British MA course in creative writing here in 1970. Follow in the footsteps of writers such as Ian McEwan, Angela Carter and Kazuo Ishiguro as you explore the concrete jungle and picturesque broad of UEA and take in a visit to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts too.


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