Read up on what makes Melbourne a world literary capital and UNESCO City of Literature. Uncover the best literary festivals, bookshops, bookish cafes and literary haunts for lovers of the written word.

Literary festivals

Meet and hear local writers and international talent at Melbourne's major literary events, including Melbourne Writers Festival, the Digital Writers Festival, the Emerging Writers Festival and the Feminist Writers Festival.

Other literary festivals take place year-round across Victoria. See our regional events pages for details.

SLV and the Wheeler Centre

The iconic historic dome of the State Library of Victoria continues to inspire generations of writers, artists, researchers, students and visitors. It’s the oldest free public library in Australia and has undergone a magnificent refurbishment and expansion, completed late 2019. The SLV provides historic reading rooms, a Create Quarter for schools, Ideas Quarter for entrepeneurs, and the Cowen Gallery space; it also hosts word-loving exhibitions, and is home to Readings bookshop, and Mr Tulk and Guild cafes.

The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas runs a page-turning list of events year-round, including book launches, writers’ talks and debates. It’s a hub for writing and literature, and brings together Writers Victoria and other key literary organisations under its roof. Right downstairs is The Moat bar and restaurant for literary musings.

Literary laneways

You'll find writerly spaces in the Flinders Lane precinct bounded by Swanston and Elizabeth Streets. Look for Aboriginal Literacy Foundation, Centre for Adult Education, City Library and literary-leaning Journal cafe.


Multinational publishers Penguin Random House and Lonely Planet lead the local industry, joined by independents Text Publishing, Hardie Grant, Black Inc., Melbourne University Publishing, Scribe Publications, and numerous other small presses and tiny publishers of books, journals and magazines.

Famous authors

Some of the world's most famous writers have called Melbourne home. Novelists, poets and intellectuals have drawn inspiration from its cultural heritage, landscape and bohemian community.

Literary Melburnians include Henry Handel Richardson, Germaine Greer, Raimond Gaita, poets Lisa Bellear, C.J. Dennis and Dorothy Porter, two-times Booker Prize winner Peter Carey and two-times Miles Franklin award winner Alex Miller. Numerous local writers have used the city and its suburbs as a literary canvas: Helen Garner, Christos Tsiolkas, Arnold Zable, Peter Temple, Emily Bitto and many more have set their stories here.


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