Four of Scotland's most famous writers have thrown their weight behind moves
to make Edinburgh the world's first capital city of literature.
Alexander McCall Smith called for recognition for Edinburgh
JK Rowling, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Dame Muriel Spark are all backing the project.
It is the brainchild of Scotland's literary world and has been funded by the Scottish Arts Council (SAC).
The idea will be debated by the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in the autumn.
The backers want Edinburgh to become the permanent Unesco world city of literature and serve as a model for other cities to celebrate books.
Harry Potter author Rowling said of her adopted home: "It's impossible to
live in Edinburgh without sensing its literary heritage everywhere.
"It seems eminently sensible to me to recognise this, along with the
contemporary literary life here, with a permanent title that can inspire and
inform other places around the world."
Rebus author Rankin, who sits on the committee steering the bid, said: "I
feel part of a tradition which is as vibrant now as ever before. Edinburgh
remains a city of the mind, a writer's city."
Celebrated figures from Edinburgh's literary past, including Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are also to be placed at the centre of Edinburgh's bid for the title.
Landing the prestigious recognition from Unesco would be worth about £2.2m a year to Edinburgh and £2.1m to the rest of Scotland, it is estimated.
JK Rowling has backed the bid by her adopted home
The cash would come from staging major new festivals, events and conferences
in the city, as well as attracting extra visitors and book sales.
Backers hope to lure the Whitbread and Booker prize award ceremonies, as well
as the Nobel Prize for Literature, to Edinburgh on the back of the Unesco bid.
Alexander McCall Smith, author of the popular No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
novels, said: "Such recognition is, I think, deserved, as outside interest in
Scottish literature is at as high a level as it ever has been."
Prime of Miss Jean Brodie writer Dame Muriel Spark said Edinburgh was "a city of books and learning, open to all knowledge".
A formal proposal will be presented to Unesco on 13 October this year and the
body could award accreditation as early as April 2005.