Our illustrious past
Before The Lit & Phil officially opened its handsome neoclassical home in 1825, the Society had been meeting since 1793 in various locations around Newcastle. Initially a place where people would meet to discuss and debate the matters of the day, the collection of books grew and artefacts and curiosities gathered. By the early 19th century it had become a home for inventors, pioneers and visionaries and a focal point for the industrial revolution. George Stephenson demonstrated his ‘miners safety lamp’ to the Society in 1815 before it went global and Joseph Swan lit a public room with electric light for the first time here in 1881.
Over the years the Lit & Phil has welcomed many great literary figures including Oscar Wilde, E.M. Forster and Gertrude Bell. Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant was a school boy member and recent visitors and patrons include Melvyn Bragg, Val McDermid, Ann Cleeves, David Almond, Alexander McCall Smith, Derek Jacobi and Michael Palin.
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