Books on Tyne Mini Book Festival is Live!

After months of preparation, we can now announce the line-up for Books on Tyne, Newcastle’s mini Book Festival, organised by the Lit & Phil and Newcastle Libraries. Hopefully there’s something for everyone in the programme ( – from crime writing and  poetry to the meditations on River Tyne. We’re delighted that our long-standing working relationship with Newcastle Libraries has resulted in what we think will be a fabulous literary  long-weekend (even if we do say so ourselves).  Have a look at the programme and book your tickets WITHOUT DELAY!

Books on ty

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Stories in the Library

Heritage Open Days are in full swing here. We couldn’t manage to participate as much as we do without our team of volunteer guides leading library tours. They are brilliant! We’ve also been working with some members of SSWAG (Seven Stories Writers and Artists Group) over the last two days. They have given their time to read stories to under 5s in our small but perfectly formed children’s library. It was lovely to see (and hear) the goings-on today. We must do it more often.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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New Season Begins

It really is this week that our new season of events begins. Tonight we are hosting the first of three British Science Festival events –  a lecture given by Matt Ridley: Coal, Steam, Slavery and the Greening of the Planet: Fossil Fuels 1713-2013. Tomorrow and Wednesday we have Lumen, a new performance especially written for the Festival, all about Joseph Swan.

The annual Heritage Open  Days events run here from Thursday to Saturday, with a series of free guided tours on offer, children’s storytelling sessions and a lecture on Miners’ Banners. Throw in a discussion about the world of real vs. fictional policing, and you can see how busy it is going to be.

Speaking of policing,  we hope you managed to stay up and watch Vera last night….at last we saw the results of last year’s filming. The sequences were short and sweet but did remind us what a fantastic building the Lit & Phil is.

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EAT! at the Lit & Phil

Our normally plain and sober Lecture Room has been transformed into a Speakeasy/Literary Salon, as part of NewcastleGateshead’s EAT!, a festival celebrating food and drink. It’s amazing what the team have done, so if you get the chance please  come along to one of the events before the salon is no more.

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Letter from the Arctic Circle

Today’s post brought with it a letter from our one of our  guest bloggers, Stevie Ronnie….

“I am writing to you from the Arctic Circle. It is amazing here – glaciers, reindeer, arctic fox and 24 hour sun. I must come and tell the Lit & Phil all about it when I get back. Tomorrow we set sail for the polar ice cap on the tall ship ‘Antigua’.”

We look forward to it!

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Latin Field Trip

The Lit & Phil’s enthusiastic Latin Class ended their term today by visiting the Corbridge Roman site.  Unfortunately is wasn’t the warmest of days but as you can see, their hunger to learn did not wane!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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Guest Blogger # 4 – Stevie Ronnie

I’ve been buzzing in and out of this place for days. Something has been taking shape among the collections of this Institution that defies classification – the collision of art, science, myth, sound, light, bell jars, boxes, performances, paintings, drawings, photographs and the resurrection of two mummies.

I can think of nowhere else like this place – whenever I turn in from Westgate Road the rest of the world disappears. There’s something that hangs in the air of this great library that is akin to the hypnotic state of reading.

Dawn Felicia Knox’s Returning to the Philosopher’s Table has been responsible for the majority of my visits here over the past few days – I’m in the process of writing some poems that Dawn and I are going to make into poem-films together.

The poems are a direct responding to an eclectic mix of artworks that Dawn has commissioned: Ben Lawson’s occult invocation of an ribbon fish under the table in the James Knott room is something destined for legend and my response is a playful new poetic form; I’m excited about writing from Dawn’s notes to be taken at Sally Madge’s performance lecture later in June (a hearsay poem of sorts); and lastly there’s my response to the whispering beauty of Stephen Livingstone’s moth cuts – a work which silences you in the best possible way. The words for that one are still dancing around (much like the moths in Stephen’s work).

I can think of nowhere else like this place – the opportunity to come here and write feels like a privilege.  This refuge, this place where ideas can wander and mix. Here it happens as easily as picking up a book. On Thursday I embark for the High Arctic where I’ll be finding another place to disconnect and think. I know I will bring something of that place back to Lit and Phil.

The buzz is picking up a pace now – the clock racing on toward 6pm when the doors will open on the Lit and Phil’s latest transformation. People are arriving; the tension is building to the point where it will slowly dissipate as this serene space fills. Long may it continue into the future, this bringing together of thinkers under one roof.litandphil

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Postcard Preview


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The Silence is Broken

Suddenly it is June. The weeks have flown by and the Lit & Phil’s blogger now tries to make up for the long silence. Apologies.

It’s been busy of course, with lectures, concerts, readings, workshops and classes taking place. Not to mention people using the library – as a library!  In April we increased membership fees by a small amount (but not in all categories!). To ease the pain we increased the number of books members can borrow. Which is good for members – and good for us because it means more shelf space.

During April and May we had an exhibition of Folio Society books. On Thursday, as part of the Festival of the North East, we celebrate the opening of the exhibition Returning to the Philosophers’ Table Hot on the heels of this will be The Postcard: a Voyage of Discovery, an exhibition curated by Gail-Nina Anderson ( 28 June – 27July). There is a launch event on 27 June at 6pm. Come along if you can.

Tonight we begin our series of events marking the centenary of Emily Wilding Davison’s death, with a lecture by Julia Weatherall. Check the website for details of more events….

We have no evidence that Emily Davison set foot in the building but it’s heartening to note that more than 40 years earlier Millicent Garrett Fawcett delivered lectures to the Lit & Phil on The Education of Women and The Enfranchisement of Women.


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Another Party, Same Birthday

Tuesday evening saw the Lit & Phil celebrate its 220th birthday  – again. Our party on the 7th February was oversubscribed and many people were left disappointed. Therefore we decided to hold another celebration.

 On the night we had Michael Chaplin, who has a long association with the Society, as our special guest. He gave a brilliantly personal account of what the Lit & Phil means to him.

 There was music, a book display and plenty of refreshments to keep everyone happy. And of course a birthday party is not a birthday party without a cake. Our cake was cut by Astrid, who retired as Deputy Librarian at the end of 2011.


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