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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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Album cover

Breathe in me

Kate Halsall is a regular visitor to the Lit & Phil giving both solo piano concerts and often in collaboration with others. She has just released a new album recorded in the Lit & Phil.

Photo of open book and tea

New books July 2021

Every month, the Lit & Phil buys new books - we're a library after all! Here are just four that have come in recently

Painting of The Bellerophon ship

The Rotherams

Newcastle has a long history of families whose members have contributed enormously to the world of learning and discovery. The Rotherams are a fine such example.

The Rosetta Stone

Hieroglyphs from the North

The term 'Rosetta Stone' is now used to refer to the essential clue to a new field of knowledge. Read about its connection to the Newcastle mummy, Bakt-en-Hor, and how its inscriptions were amongst the earliest hieroglyphic texts to be read by French scholar and Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion.

The sailing ship ‘Anne’ leaving the Tyne.

A Tyneside Heritage

Perhaps not surprisingly for a Literary Society, there are quite a few authors among our members. Although he now lives in London, Peter Chapman was born in the North East, still maintains strong links here and is still a member of the Lit & Phil. His new book, is ‘A Tyneside Heritage’ a fascinating story interweaving 150 years of local and family history is now published and available from Waterstones and Blackwells.

19th century engraving of the effects of laughing gas

A Dream of Fairyland: Conversazioni ... and more

Writer Horace Walpole is credited with the first English use of conversazione in a 1739 letter in which he writes, "After the play we were introduced to the assembly, which they call the conversazione." As this Italian borrowing was used through the years, it gained nuances of meaning and in England by the 19th century, conversazione also referred to assemblies and soirees of people connected with the arts or sciences. And at the Lit & Phil they lead they led to other things...

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! 

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