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10:16am Thursday 19th July 2012 in Letters
Sir – So Port Harcourt in Nigeria is Unesco World Book Capital 2014 beating Oxford. It’s not the fault of the Oxford Inspires committee who have worked hard and with enthusiasm, supported by organisations and voluntary groups from all over the county.
Unesco say the aim is to promote literature, so could it be that we have too many great libraries, publishing houses, literary festivals, book shops, writers and too much world breaking international appealing literature The current exhibition in the Story Museum Tea with Alice — 100 contemporary illustrations of Alice in Wonderland shows work from every corner of the globe. These waves of literature from Oxford into the world’s imagination came not only from Lewis Carroll, but from CS Lewis, Tolkien and contemporary writers like Philip Pullman , Brian Aldiss, Susan Hill, etc.
Indeed, Ted Dewan whose Story Loom is also in The Story Museum calls Oxford ‘The Hollywood of Stories’. Let’s face it, I could fill this paper with the names of writers with Oxford connections.
We don’t do a bad job at promoting literature — indeed we excel at it. So is this decision some kind of reverse prejudice? If Unesco are only interested in promoting literature where there is not great deal of it, then why not be honest about it?
Or is Lord Rochester of Ted’s story alive and laughing?
Sylvia Vetta , Kennington