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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. 

Gallows

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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