Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Québec City is the oldest French-speaking city in North America. As the capital of the province of Québec it is known worldwide for its rich history, breath-taking scenery, and dynamic development of cultural life. A historical district of the city, Old Québec (le Vieux-Québec) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. The hallmarks of Québec’s literary life are innovation and rich multicultural heritage: Francophone, Anglophone and Aboriginal.
Ever since its foundation, Québec City has undergone dynamic change that influenced the way it was pictured: initially an ideal city dreamt and set up by Samuel de Champlain, it later became a typically romantic city that seduced the newcomers (Albert Camus, Charles Dickens or H.P. Lovecraft and many others who shared their enthralment with the city) and inspired local authors (Anne Hébert, Roger Lemelin, Jacques Poulin). Today, over 250 authors play a role in the literary revival, and refreshing the memory, of Québec’s literary traditions that date back to 1837, when the first French-Canadian novel, L’influence d’un livre (The Influence of a Book) by Philippe Aubert de Gaspé was published here. Several cultural institutions established in that period are still active in the city supporting the local literary tradition and playing a key role in the local literary community, among them the Literary and Historical Society of Québec (1824) or L’Institut Canadien de Québec (1848).
The dynamically developing Québec hosts eight annual literary festivals: Quebec in Words, a thematic literary festival; Month of Poetry; Québec Francophone Comics Festival; ImagiNation; Jamais Lu (Never Read), a festival of dramaturgy; Quebec, La Muse, a jazz and literary festival; Festival de contes et menteries, a festival of fairy tales; and the theatre festival Carrefour international de théâtre. Also, held annually, the Québec International Book Fair Québec has broken records for several years, welcoming 2,500 writers and artists and 240,000 readers.
Besides this, Québec is also the headquarters of De Marque, a French leader in the distribution of e-books with 1600 partners in 40 countries across the world. In 2015, The House of Literature (La Maison de la littérature) was opened in the historical part of the city; this North America’s unique project seeks to animate and promote literature, embodying Quebec’s love for words and stories.