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Welcome to the Lit & Phil's Blog

Despite the current difficulties we really want to 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! 

If you have any views or comments about the postings or would like to offer a blog entry of your own, then please contact us at our usual email address or through the contact form which you can instantly jump to by clicking on this highlighted text.

Meanwhile, as a fully independent library, the Lit & Phil relies for its survival on its members and their subscriptions and from generating its own income, particularly from events and bequests. Of course at the moment there are no events, so if you would like to support the Lit & Phil then you can use your mobile to make a contribution: 

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Portrait of Charles Hutton

Pit to Pi: The Life of Charles Hutton

The Lit & Phil has had many remarkable members in its 200 year history. Some are well known, such as Stephenson and Swan; in a new blog Chris Jackson of Heaton History Group has written about Charles Hutton who deserves to be much better known. Born in Newcastle, briefly a miner then a teacher, he became a hugely important mathematician and surveyor. 

Sandhill, Newcaslte

Katy's Coffee House

Coffee houses were hugely important meeting places in the 18th century, including here in Newcastle. One such was Katy's on Newcastle's Quayside. Lit&Phil volunteer Susan Lynn tells its fascinating story.

Photo of crocuses

Account of some Experiments on the Root of Crocus Vernus

In its early days, the Lit&Phil held monthly meetings at which members delivered papers. Hand written transcripts of many of those papers are held in four large volumes at the library. The topics were very wide ranging from "common manure" to "iron in Sweden" to "hats". Many are too long to publish here, but over the coming months there will be a small selection, starting with making flour from crocus bulbs! 

Photo of Charles Baudelaire

Baudelaire, Dante and Keats

2021 is an anniversary year for Dante, Keats and Baudelaire. Perhaps, therefore, 2021 is a good year to find connections, and it’s always good to connect everything to the North East, and in particular our Pre-Raphaelite heritage.  

Ball of twine

Reading on string

The Braille alphabet is probably the most common and best know of many alphabets that have been created to enable the blind to read by touch. In one of the hundreds of volumes of Tracts (random printed papers) at the Lit & Phil there is an account of a string alphabet - and a puzzle to go with it!

Portrait of Lord Armstrong

Lord Armstrong : his science and his legacy

Baron Armstrong was a 19th century English engineer and industrialist and a prominent inventor, scientist and philanthropist and president of the Lit & Phil for forty years. He founded the Armstrong Whitworth manufacturing concern on Tyneside employing many thousands.

Brown is the new white

A light in our darkness or a candle in the wind?

Alan Beale examines the Latin origins of whiteness.

Head of Irtyru

Irtyru – Newcastle’s second mummy

The Lit & Phil was the host to two Egyptian mummies. The second, Irtyru was extensively and rather gruesomely examined by three doctors in the prescence of members of the Lit & Phil. Anthea Lang tells the story of its unwrapping.

Photo of Linda Coulby's graduation.

University as a Mature Student

It may be a truism to say that you're never too old to learn but many mature students would heartily agree. Linda Coulby's inspiring example shows how education at a later stage in life can be transformative. Despite the government's apparently increasing discouragement to older students, it is still possible and as Linda tells, very worthwhile.

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