Discover Australia's boldest literary festival

Melbourne Writers Festival

We respectfully acknowledge that Melbourne Writers Festival takes place on the traditional lands of the Kulin Nation, in particular the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Our purpose

We bring people together to celebrate words and stories, and share the human experience.


To be Australia’s boldest literary festival.


Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) is:

We value the imagination and what it can add to the world through storytelling and writing. We are curious about new possibilities and seek to apply them to our work – from the artists we engage to the business we run.

We work with the best writers and thinkers, internationally and locally, and pursue excellence in everything we do.

Always thought provoking, sometimes provocative, we take curious readers on a journey of discovery. We are not afraid to be challenging or take risks.

Intellectually curious
We celebrate reading and writing and the power of the intellect. We want Melbourne to be an intellectual centre, and enable its citizens to find joy in new ideas, debate and education.

We build communities from amazing moments, powerful connections and the exchange of ideas between readers and writers.

MWF is a high-profile, much-loved organisation that plays an important and influential role in the local arts ecology. For more than three decades, the organisation has enjoyed the loyalty of hundreds of thousands of Melbourne’s readers. Each year, across over 300 events and working with around 200 partners, MWF brings together the diverse talent of 500 writers from across Australia and the world – creating moments for connection, discussion and inspiration with the public.

The next Melbourne Writers Festival will be held from 3—12 September 2021.

UNESCO City of Literature

As the second city to be designated a UNESCO City of Literature, Melbourne’s literary heritage and culture is internationally recognised. Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature is an acknowledgment of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of our literary culture.

Melbourne supports a diverse range of writers and literary organisations including Melbourne Writers Festival, a prosperous publishing industry and successful independent booksellers. We also host a range of successful literary events and festivals that help foster our strong reading culture.


MWF was founded in 1986 and by the mid-1990s, our audience had doubled in size as we became host to over 150 writers. The first MWF Schools’ Program was held in 1995.

At the dawn of the 21st century, Melbourne Writers Festival had emerged as a major international event, providing a forum for political and cultural discussion, sparking controversy and inviting innovative thought.

In 2019, we launched a significant partnership with State Library Victoria, creating a literary precinct for all Melburnians to celebrate words and storytelling. From 2020, MWF will run most of its program in the newly renovated spaces of the Library.

Today around 50,000 people participate in MWF each year, and more than 10,000 young people are part of the Schools’ Program.

Special guests

MWF has been host to some of the most imaginative and intelligent writers and thinkers from Australia and around the world.

Some of the many writers who have been part of the Festival include Nobel Prize-winners JM Coetzee and Seamus Heaney; Pulitzer Prize-winners John Ashbery, Ronan Farrow, Richard Ford, Frank McCourt, Annie Proulx, and Elizabeth Strout; Booker Prize-winners Anne Enright, Richard Flanagan, Ben Okri, and Graham Swift; Windham-Campbell Prize-winners Maria Tumarkin, Patricia Cornelius, Ali Cobby Eckermann,  Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and Ashleigh Young; and Women’s Prize for Fiction-winners Kate Grenville, Tayari Jones, and Zadie Smith.

International guests have included Becky Albertalli, Isabel Allende, Brit Bennett, Melvyn Bragg, Bill Bryson, Neko Case, Ted Chiang, Helen Clark, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Dave Eggers, Robert Fisk, Ben Folds, Jonathan Franzen, Tavi Gevinson, PJ Harvey, Pico Iyer, PD James, Terry Jones, Mikki Kendall, Naomi Klein, Kevin Kwan, David Levithan, Yann Martel, Val McDermid, Janet Mock, Edna O’Brien, Joyce Carol Oates, Jenny Odell, Maria Popova, Patrick Radden Keefe, Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell, Rainbow Rowell, Salman Rushdie, Carol Shields, Tracy K Smith, Angie Thomas, Colm Tóibín, Joanna Trollope, Irvine Welsh, and Joss Whedon.

Celebrating Australian literature, Melbourne Writers Festival has featured – among many others – Tina Arena, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Tony Birch, Claire G Coleman, Sophie Cunningham, Robert Dessaix, Kitty Flanagan, Raimond Gaita, Helen Garner, Julia Gillard, Anne Gracie, Andy Griffiths, Jess Hill, Amie Kaufman, Sarah Krasnostein, Marcia Langton, Benjamin Law, Leigh Sales, David Malouf, Melina Marchetta, Sisonke Msimang, Les Murray, Omar Musa, Magda Szubanski, Jessica Townsend, Christos Tsiolkas, Maria Tumarkin, Ellen van Neerven, Alison Whittaker and Miles Franklin Literary Award-winners including Tara June Winch, Charlotte Wood, Michelle de Kretser, Melissa Lucashenko, Kim Scott, Tim Winton, and Alexis Wright.