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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
Edinburgh books literary title
Writers Museum in Edinburgh
The campaign team said Edinburgh has strong credentials
Edinburgh has been named the world's first City of Literature by the United Nations' cultural body Unesco.

Scottish Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson expressed delight at the decision and said it confirmed the city's literary credentials.

Leading writers, including JK Rowling, Dame Muriel Spark and Ian Rankin, had backed the campaign.

The proposal was put to Unesco in Paris on Wednesday and a formal announcement was made on Thursday.

Ms Ferguson, who led a delegation to Paris, said: "I'm absolutely delighted at the news that Edinburgh has been recognised as the first Unesco city of literature.

"This is not only good news for Edinburgh but for Scotland as a whole. It confirms Scotland's position as a country of literary excellence."

This is great news for Edinburgh and for the written word in Scotland
Donald Anderson
Edinburgh council leader
The idea for a world city of literature was the inspiration of leading figures in literature and publishing in Scotland and was spearheaded by James Boyle, the chairman of Scotland's cultural commission.

He said: "I'm overwhelmed. As soon as we heard we jumped up in the air and toasted Edinburgh."

The campaign team said the city could point to literary greats including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns, who all lived and wrote in Edinburgh.

The team hope their efforts will inspire a regular competition involving other world cities.

Edinburgh City Council Leader, Donald Anderson, said: "We were always quietly confident that we would win but we are absolutely delighted to have it confirmed.

"This is great news for Edinburgh and for the written word in Scotland."

Harry Potter author JK Rowling and crime writer Ian Rankin gave their support to a campaign which had widespread backing from the literary and publishing community and the Scottish Arts Council.

Ms Ferguson said the city already hosts some of the world's leading arts festivals, including the world famous book festival.

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