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Welcome to the Lit & Phil's Blog

This blog is to help us keep engaged with both our members and visitors. Our hope is to inform, entertain and possibly amuse you, offering at least some distraction from the current crisis. Don't forget to check our social media channels, too. We will do everything we possibly can to keep in touch.

Please note that all the contributions here are the views and opinions of the contributors! 

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Newcastle Central High School for girls

The First Women Vice-Presidents

Although women had been members of the Society almost from its earliest days, it wasn't until the early 20th century that they rose higher than being a member of the board. Following on from his blog about The Lit and Phil's first women committee members, member Paul Gailiunas gives the background to two of the Society's first women vice-presidents.

Ethel Williams

The Lit and Phil's first women committee members

The Lit and Phil has had women members for very many years. Long standing member Paul Gailiunas has delved into the archives and presents his research about some of the very first women committee members and gives something of their story and background.

Dante and Beatrice by Flaxman

Dante at 700 - Part 3

In this final part of his trilogy about Dante and his works, Keith Jewitt considers Beatrice - was he the love of Dante's life or was she an invention? she was certainly his muse and inspiration. An appropriate end to a fascinating series of blogs.


Ulisse Avvolto Dalla Sua Fiamma

Dante at 700 - Part 2

Keith Jewitt continues his exploration of Dante and The Divine Comedy touching on two of the most famous episodes - Paulo and Francesca who were murdered by Francesca's husband, and Ulysses who is explicitly on the receiving end of the wrath of Dante’s God. The Divine Comedy is never dull!

Flaxman illustration of the devil from Dante's Inferno

Dante at 700 – Part 1

2021 is the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. In those 700 years he has influenced authors, philosophers, artists, poets and even architecture and was one of the first to write in the Italian language that we know today. In the first of three blog posts Keith Jewitt tells how he turned to Dante during the pandemic and why.

A Gosforth footpath

Over lockdown, with walking one of the few allowable reasons to leave the house, many people discovered more about their local area. One such was Lit & Phil member Paul Gailiunas who writes of his discoveries in Gosforth in our 100th blog posting!

16th century map of Newcastle

Bird's Eye View

The fascinating story of Newcastle's earliest map.

Photo of William Kennett Loftus (1820 – 1858)

Well that's a relief!

As a Lit and Phil guide I always tell the story that in the late 1960s the Lit and Phil sold some Assyrian slabs, which had been bequeathed to it by William Kennett Loftus many years before, to the Los Angeles Museum for £40,000, which provided the funds for the conversion of the lecture theatre into 4 rooms. Although I knew it was a museum in Los Angeles, I didn’t know which one – until recently when by chance I stumbled across the museum in which they are housed.



Photo of a wombat

The Lit and Phil and The Wombat

An extraordinary tale of a wombat pickled in a leaking cask of spirits coming from Australia to The Lit and Phil. It was the first ever seen in the UK, but it got put in a drawer and forgotten about for thirty years until it was stuffed then an engraving made by Thomas Bewick.

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