Ali Bowden Honoured for Putting Edinburgh’s Literary Culture on the World Stage

Ali Bowden Honoured for Putting Edinburgh’s Literary Culture on the World Stage

Today Director of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust Ali Bowden was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by Edinburgh Napier University in recognition of her contribution to the promotion of reading, writing and literary heritage.

Bowden played a key role in establishing and developing Edinburgh as the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. The Edinburgh International Book Festival led the campaigning efforts and alongside the other founding members succeeded in creating the City of Literature title as a globally recognised honour. With its rich literary history from Robert Louis Stevenson to JK Rowling to Ian Rankin, its own poet laureate, the Edinburgh Makar, and being home to so many great literary institutions Edinburgh earned the status in 2004, making it a founding city in a global network of creative cities.

During her career Ali Bowden has created projects ranging from community-based writers’ residencies and international exchanges to Scotland’s first citywide reading campaign, the award-winning Great Scott! installation in Waverley railway station and the Stars & Stories trail of illuminated quotations celebrating 500 years of Edinburgh’s publishing heritage.

The hard work continues, with Ali’s current focus being the creation of a Literature House at John Knox House, as part of a wider development of the Literary Quarter on the Royal Mile.

Following a graduation ceremony in the Usher Hall with hundreds of students at the School of Arts & Creative Industries she said “I am delighted and truly honoured to receive recognition of this kind. My work over the years has never been easy but has always been interesting, diverse and stimulating. Edinburgh is an outstanding UNESCO City of Literature and it’s a joy to play a part in supporting the reading and writing communities here, and connecting our literary city with like-minded cities around the world.”

We can’t wait to see how Ali’s work continues to make literature a central part of Edinburgh people’s lives in the future and reinforces the city’s reputation on the global literary stage.

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