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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.

Wilson in the Sinai 1869

The Ordnance Surveys in Jerusalem and Sinai

The Lit & Phil has copies of many fascinating if perhaps rather obscure texts. Two such are the 1869 reports of two expeditions to survey Jerusalem and Sinai with the intention of providing clean water for the city. Many of the people behind the reports have strong North East connections.

Hellenes and Philhellenes

On March 25th, 2021, Greeks celebrate two hundred years since they became an independent country after the revolution against their Ottoman rulers. They had been under this rule for 400 years as a result of the fall of Constantinople. Greek author Lito Seizani, born in Athens, has written a short blog to celebrate the  anniversary.


Newcastle’s first Mummy, Bakt-en-Hor

Egyptian mummies have long had a strange fascination. None more so than the one brought from Thebes in Egypt to Newcastle in 1820 and given to the museum at the Lit & Phil in 1821 when 10,000 people came to see it. It's now in the Hancock Museum in Newcastle. This is the story of Bakt-en-Hor.

Portals of Magic

A library or a bookshop can be a wonderous place with so much waiting to be discovered. Step through the doors for a magical experience.

A cartoon of Dr. Katterfelto

The Amazing Dr. Katterfelto

The Lit & Phil has a long and honourable history of presenting talks and lectures of all kinds. One of the earliest, before the Society even had a permanent home in its current building, was given by Dr. Katterfelto in 1798 who was an entertaining mixture of showman, conjuror and scientist. Between his arrival in Hull in 1776 with his pregnant wife and black cat and his death in Bedale in 1799, he toured England and Scotland presenting his "Lectures and Surprising Experiments". It's a fascinating tale and one worth the retelling. 


Blood and spooks

All too recently, hanging was a common punishment, even for what today would be regarded as relatively trivial offences. But how many of you who have given blood at the Blood and Transplant Centre on Barrack Road thought about its connection with the gallows?

Drawing of the Lit & Phil

The beginnings of the Lit & Phil

In the 18th century, Literary and Philosophical Societies began to flourish, and the Newcastle Lit & Phil was among the first (philosophy was the reference to Natural Philosophy, which is now called Science).

Here in Newcastle the founder members were mainly Unitarians who held the core belief that people came to salvation through education. There was also a shift at this time from an unquestioned belief in religious authority to faith in rational discourse and scientific enquiry, together with notions of individual freedom and authority.

Mus illustration

Minimus or Maximus?

Big or little, mouse or rat? Latin scholar Alan Beale looks how the latin word mus has become part of the English language - and not always in the most obvious ways!

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