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UN delegates in Norwich to see what makes it a literary jewel

PUBLISHED: 18:24 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:46 21 May 2019

Delegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature listen to Jan Holden, head of library and information service, as they meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for Writing

Delegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature listen to Jan Holden, head of library and information service, as they meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for Writing

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A team of United Nations delegates have arrived in Norwich to explore the city's literary heritage and significance in the writing world.

Delegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for WritingDelegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for Writing

In the first summit to be held in England, delegates from the world's 27 UNESCO Cities of Literature gathered in Norwich yesterday to kick start a week-long forum, which will include appearances by authors Ali Smith and Robert Macfarlane.

The gathering, which will also see the delegation travel to Nottingham, will act as an opportunity for network members to collaborate in projects, talks, workshops and social events.

Entitled Nottwich 2019, the programme of events includes a talk hosted by Scottish author Ali Smith at the Playhouse and a presentation by the British Council at the University of East Anglia (UEA) today.

Delegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for WritingDelegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for Writing

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The team of delegates will spend the latter half of the week in Nottingham from Wednesday evening, where British writer Robert Macfarlane will host a lecture at the Council House Ballroom.

Norwich became the first English city to gain UNESCO City of literature status after a successful bid by the National Centre for Writing - formerly Writers' Centre Norwich - in 2012.

Delegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for WritingDelegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for Writing

Speaking to delegates, Chris Gribble, chief executive for National Centre for Writing and Norwich representative of UNESCO City of Literature, said: "Nottwich 2019 is a fantastic opportunity to inspire many exciting projects and international exchanges, whether you're a city of literature veteran or this is your first meeting.

"However, Nottwich 2019 is not just about the business of the internal meeting, there are plenty of opportunities for meeting old and new friends, networking and letting you hair down over a drink or two."

Norwich has been a literary city for more than 900 years and remains a destination for poets, novelists, biographers, playwrights and philosophers.

Delegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature listen to Jan Holden, head of library and information service, as they meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for WritingDelegates from the world's UNESCO Cities of Literature listen to Jan Holden, head of library and information service, as they meet in Norwich Millennium Library for the first annual summit in England. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for Writing

The first book written by a woman in the English language came from the pen of Julian of Norwich in 1395, who wrote the series Revelations of Divine Love, and the first poem written in blank verse was also penned in Norwich by Henry Howard, Ear of Surrey, in the 16th century.

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