In 1912 a group of citizens came together to form the Leamington Literary and Philosophical Society for men, but 100 years later things have changed. Now everyone interested in reading is most welcome. We usually meet during the evening of the second Tuesday of each month, from September – June. Details of exact dates, times and venues can be found in the current programme. The lectures, often illustrated, are on a wide variety of topics, including the work of novelists, poets and playwrights.

We occasionally have well known speakers from further afield, these events being open to the general public for a fee. They have included such names as Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate, and Andrew Davies of television fame. We also arrange outings to places of literary interest and belong to various associated societies. Separate poetry, novel and play reading groups meet monthly in members’ houses.

President:  Sir Anthony Hamilton

THE LATEST MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN (17th November 2022)
Two "Christmas Carol" Events

Dear Members

I’m pleased to say that the actor David Bradley has confirmed his attendance at the Leamington Literary Society meeting on Tuesday 13th December at 7-30 pm at the Oddfellows Hall to talk about his one-man performance of “A Christmas Carol”

In addition I wish to draw your attention to the Sydenham History Group’s meeting at the SYDNI Centre on Tuesday 6th December at 7-30 pm. On behalf of the Literary Society I’ll be presenting a reading of Dickens’s own 30-minute adaptation of “A Christmas Carol”. I’ll be supported by the Harbury Morris Side, who will provide musical accompaniment and a performance of Mr Fezziwig’s dance, as described in the story.

All will be very welcome: admission £2-50.

Best Wishes

Trevor Humphreys

Chairman LLS

MEMBERSHIP DETAILS

If you would like to join the Society please contact the Membership Secretary direct or at a meeting of the Society.

Annual membership costst £15.00 (single) and £25-00 (Couple)

GUESTS

Guests are welcome.  £2.50 per event

OUR COMMITTEE

The Leamington Literary Society Committee members are elected each year at the annual general meeting. The current committee is:

Chairman - Trevor Humphreys (Tel: 01926 887838)

Vice Chairman - Graham Cooper (Tel: 01926 426942)

Hon. Secretary - David Howe (Tel: 01926 491859)

Membership Secretary - Fiona Williams (Tel: 01926 429174)

Hon. Treasurer - Robin Taylor (Tel: 01926 337575)

Committee Members - Joan Clark, Susan Hammon

RELATED GROUPS

Small related groups meet regularly on an informal basis:

Play Reading Group – meets to read modern or classical plays.  Contact Barry West (Tel: 01926 422515)

Poetry Group – meets to read and discuss poets and their work.  Contact Trevor Humphreys (Tel: 01926 887838)

Reading Group – meets to read and discuss the modern novel. (Currently not active)

If you are a member of the Society and would like to join any of these groups please telephone the contact for the appropriate group.

PROGRAMME 2022 -2023

All meetings will be held at the Oddfellows Hall, 22 New Street, Leamington Spa CV31 1HP (with the exceptions of an external visit in September and a Zoom Meeting in January)

Tuesday 13th September, 7-30 pm
“Tom Brown’s Schooldays” and the School Story Genre

To be held in Old Hall, School House at Rugby School after a tour of the historic buildings.
Andrew Smith, Teacher of English and Housemaster of School House

Tuesday 11th October, 7-30 pm
The Darling Mr Dahl

Writings of Roald Dahl
Steve Dimmer, Member of Equity and the Magic Circle

Tuesday 8th November, 7-30 pm
Paradise Lost: Primitive Methodists in Warwickshire

Anne Langley, Warwickshire County Records Office
With readings from George Eliot and others

Tuesday 13 h December, 7-30 pm
Reflections on performing “A Christmas Carol” Solo

David Bradley, actor of renown (RSC, Harry Potter films), subject to professional availability
Plus Seasonal Refreshments and Singing

Tuesday 10th January, 2-30 pm: ZOOM Meeting
Writing for Young Adults and Moving to an Adult Fiction 

Celia Rees, Local Author, of National Repute
Joint Meeting with the Society of Authors, Warwickshire

Tuesday 14th February, 2-30 pm 
The Life and Writings of Arnold Bennett

A Speaker from the Arnold Bennett Society

Tuesday 14th March, 7-30 pm
Broken Shells
: a retelling of Chaucer’s “Man of Law’s Tale”.  
Daisy Black, Storyteller and Medievalist, University of Wolverhampton’

Tuesday 18th April, 7-30 pm
“Blood on the Keyboard”: How to write a Crime Novel
(with the assistance of the audience!)

Peter Tickler, author of “Dead in Oxford” and other well-regarded crime thrillers

Tuesday 9th May, 7-30 pm
An Introduction to the Novels of Angela Thirkell

“The humour of Wodehouse with the social observation of Trollope”
Hilary Temple, Chair, the Angela Thirkell Society.

Tuesday 13th June, 7-30 pm
Annual General Meeting and Book Sale

AFFILIATED SOCIETIES

We are affiliated to:

The Alliance of Literary Societies – which keeps us in touch with literary societies through the UK and delegates from our society attend their AGM each year. The Alliance also produces a very interesting annual journal.

Fulke Greville Society – we are a group member. The contact for this organisation is Anthony Astbury (Tel: 01926 492086)

Friends of the County Record Office – we are a group member and records of the Society from its inauguration in 1912 are held by the Records Office.

Speakers are also frequently drawn from other Societies including George Eliot Fellowship,  John Masefield Society,  the Houseman Society and John Betjeman Society.

The Society has connections with the Mary Dormer Harris Memorial Bursary, which exists to make financial awards to young students in mid-Warwickshire, especially with interests in drama, debating, international affairs and law. In 1916 Mary Dormer Harris became the first lady to address the Society and in 1917, she became one of the two first ladies elected as members. The Society has been instrumental in recruiting Trustees for the Bursary.

The Society is represented on the Blue Plaques Group of Royal Leamington Spa Town Council, and has been instrumental in the installation of a plaque to the nineteenth century American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne in Lansdowne Circus, and local historian, Mary Dormer Harris in Gaveston Road.

PREVIOUS NOTABLE EVENTS

In past years we have invited many speakers of note and often these meetings have been open to the general public. Details of some of these events are given below.

  • 2002 The Keats/Shelley Association sponsored Gabriel Woolf to speak at the Pump Rooms on the poetry of Keats. Following another Lecture, our members visited the D H Lawrence Museum and Birthplace in Nottingham and the many surrounding places which featured in his novels.
  • 2004 This was the year when the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, paid his first visit to Warwickshire to speak about his writing. The meeting was a great success.
  • 2004 and 2011 Andrew Davies brilliantly revealed how he transformed the written word into pictures for the Television, illustrating both talks with computer images. The first concentrated on the work of Sarah Walters, the second on Jane Austen and the forthcoming ‘South Riding’.
  • 2006 The then little known Sophie Hannah introduced the book she was just writing; little did we know how famous she would become. We also visited Lichfield, which was celebrating the 250th anniversary of the publication of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary.
  • 2007 Pauline Prior-Pitt, a local poet who had moved to the Western Isles, returned to read from her new Compilation.
  • 2008 A local group of Madrigal Singers delighted us with ‘Life in Elizabethan Times’ in poetry and music.
  • 2009 We visited Prince Charles’s garden at Highgrove.
  • 2011 The Very Revd John Irvine MA Dean of Coventry spoke on 400 years of the King James Bible.
  • 2012 The Society Centenary was celebrated with tea at the Royal Pump Room Gardens.
  • 2014 Joint meeting with the Leamington Society where Andrew Davies spoke on Dylan Thomas and adapting classics for television.
  • 2018 Talk on George Orwell by his adopted son Richard Blair.