Hobart – City of Literature

The UNESCO City of Literature bid presents a truly unique and deeply exciting opportunity to present the successes of Tasmanian literature on an international stage. It would reinforce an already strong culture of literary production in Hobart and Tasmania, and provide inter-generational opportunities to celebrate storytelling, improve educational attainment in the State, and foster continuing education.– The University of Tasmania

Our 2023 Application

Over the last six months, a passionate working group has been preparing an application for Hobart to be named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2023. With representatives from the Tasmanian Writer’s Centre, Libraries Tasmania, the University of Tasmania, Hobart City Council, Brand Tasmania, and Fullers Bookshop, the working group embodies the power of Hobart and Tasmania’s Literary Sector.


But we do not work alone. In April 2023, we hosted two fabulously well-attended stakeholder events at Town Hall, where we invited writers, publishers, booksellers, academics, actors, and literacy organisations to join this story. They said yes.

On the 22nd of May, we were thrilled when Hobart City Council approved our request to submit, demonstrating the importance of literature, literacy, and creativity to our city.

Hobart is excited about the opportunity to be named a UNESCO City of Literature. The working group, our award-wining writers, our local government, and our readers are already invested, and all of us are waiting to see what happens next.

A show of hands at our first stakeholder event – who wants to see Hobart become a City of Literature?
Let’s celebrate Tasmanian books and writing! And, of course, let’s not forget reading. Where there is a thriving writing community, there is a thriving community of readers, and this leads to excellent literacy in our young and beyond.”– Kathryn Lomer, award winning author
(City of Literature status) would give us another platform to address literacy in our state. By sharing with other Cities’ experiences, by using the joy and power of storytelling, and unifying the efforts of experts, storytellers, and teachers we could use a cultural lens to bring Hobart and Tasmania closer to a 100 per cent literacy.”– Jeremy Rockliff, MP, Premier

Why Us?

Nipaluna/Hobart is a City of Stories, positioned on an Island of Stories. Currently, it is seeking UNESCO City of Literature status to better broadcast its stories to the world.


First, the Aboriginal Tasmanian people told their stories here, and, despite European invasion, they have drawn on their knowledge, history, resilience, and creativity to retrieve their language, palawa kani, and to keep telling and interpreting both old stories and new.

Literature flourished in Colonial Hobart – a city of convicts and new settlers, who did not understand their new world and made sense of it through story. Australia’s first work of general fiction was published here in 1818, as was the country’s first ‘free press’ newspaper in 1824. In 1849, Hobart became home to one of the nation’s first public libraries. It was a city of people reading, writing, and storytelling.

A book sale in Hobart’s famous Salamanca precinct.
Acclaimed Tasmanian writer Robbie Arnott presents at the 2022 Tasmanian Writers Festival

Today, Hobart and Tasmania are home to a multitude of award-winning and best-selling writers, a number of well-loved independent bookshops, a small but adventurous local publishing industry, a popular state library, and a constantly evolving calendar of literary festivals, awards, events, and celebrations of reading.

But that is not the whole story.

Tasmania has the worst adult literacy rate in the country. Fifty percent of Tasmanian adults are functionally illiterate. Not only are they unable to read for pleasure, but they cannot access key health or political information. We know that low literacy rates can cause serious disadvantage, and we know this cannot continue.


As a UNESCO City of Literature, Hobart would draw on its history and contemporary literary ecosystem to target low literacy rates. Illiteracy is one of the biggest challenges facing our state. Literature and storytelling have the power to change the conversation from deficit to ambition, from insecurity to pride. UNESCO City of Literature status can help us do this. As a City of Literature, Hobart would work to solve our state’s literacy crisis, giving Tasmanians a new reason to read and pouring effort into events and initiatives that improve literacy and combat the social inequalities caused by illiteracy.

Tasmanian children’s author Lian Tanner with two young fans at the 2022 Tasmanian Writers Festival.
We believe UNESCO City of Literature status for Hobart would be a rightful endorsement of the city’s and state’s commitment to creators, books and writing. It would also be of value in further highlighting the gap between those who can read and those who can’t. Reading continues to be a challenge for nearly half the population and much of our work in libraries is to support people who need and want to improve their literacy.”– Tasmanian Libraries Advisory Board
The proposed City of Literature program draws on and enriches the strengths of our creative sector, while providing many new opportunities to engage locals and visitors. The program will stimulate creativity, encourage the sharing of knowledge and ideas, increase our social connectedness, and our share sense of place and identity.”– Simon Wellington, Chief Executive, Theatre Royal

By joining the Creative Cities Network, we hope to:

  • Share Hobart’s rich storytelling legacy with the world;
  • Create more opportunities for Tasmanian writers;
  • Create new international partnerships for our city;
  • Draw on the knowledge of the Network as we combat adult illiteracy;
  • Add our own knowledge to the conversation, sharing our experiences of regional literary practice, eco-fiction, and language recovery.
An audience of engaged readers at the Tasmanian Writers Festival 2022.

Use the below form to join the conversation and share your thoughts about Hobart applying to be a City of Literature!