Latest news

Keep up-to-date with the latest news from the Lit & Phil and its affiliates here. We are also on social media so be sure to follow us using the links at the bottom of the page.


Interview with Keir Giles

26th January, 2021


Keir Giles will be joining us this week to deliver his lecture: 'What Drives Russia To Confront The West?'

Ahead of his talk at the Manchester Lit & Phil, we had chance for a quick Q&A with Keir.

For more information about the event, including instructions for how to register, click here.

If there's a specific question you'd like to ask Keir, then you'll have a chance on Wednesday as part of the Q&A section of the event, when Keir will be taking questions from the audience. 


Q: To kick things off, you have devoted a large amount of your professional career to studying Russia. When did your interest begin?


A: I started learning Russian at school, and then in France, Finland, and eventually Moscow shortly before the end of the USSR. Since then, yes, I've spent 30 years working with or on Russia in one way or another.


Q: Naturally, people will always compare the current political tensions to the Cold War. Is this a fair comparison, or is it outdated?


A: It's true that there are some features of what is happening today that remind us of the Cold War. But that risks being a misleading comparison because there are key differences.

Toward the very end of the Cold War relations between Moscow and the West were at least relatively stable and predictable - but we should also think of the decades before that, full of proxy wars and dangerous confrontations.

Russia's idea of how it needs to deal with the rest of the world, with hostility and aggression in any domain where it thinks it will bring an advantage, is once again a major challenge to peace and stability not only in Europe but wherever Moscow feels an ambition to expand its power and reach.


Q: If the West views Russia as unpredictable and irrational—how does the Kremlin view the White House?


A: Watching the Russian attitude toward Donald Trump has given a case study in how Russia understands, or often misunderstands, politics in Western democracies.

Trump's image swung between being Moscow's puppet in the White House, to a figure of fun, but underlying it all was the persistent Russian belief that Western leaders have more power than they really do - that as in Russia, they can disregard democratic processes and order change or new policies.

The success of the US government at maintaining rule of law and frustrating some of Trump's more extreme and dangerous initiatives confirmed not only his own suspicions about the "deep state", but also deepened Moscow's conviction that the West is fundamentally untrustworthy.


Q: Can you recommend any reading material—either by yourself or someone else—for anyone with an interest on the topic?


A: One of the most striking things I found when researching my own book, Moscow Rules was how consistently past descriptions of Russia still ring true today.

Again and again I found diagnoses of the Russia problem from past centuries that could be repeated word for word today.

One of the best explanations of Russia comes from the 1970s: Tibor Szamuely's "The Russian Tradition".

There is also anything by Edward Crankshaw, including "Russia and the Russians".

Among the many, many present-day authors covering the topic I'd recommend Angela Stent.



**Please note that booking closes at 1730 on the day of the event, and we are not able to process registration requests after that time.  If you believe you have sent a registration request but have not received a confirmation email with joining instructions, then please contact the office as soon as possible.  Enquiries regarding bookings sent to the office after 1730 on the day of the event may not be answered.**



Spring 2021 Programme

14th December, 2020

We are delighed to share our full Spring 2021 programme with you.

There's lots to look forward to next year!  Members have priority booking so join today to secure your place at our online events.

We are currently offering discounted membership fees to new members.  See here for more information.


Spring 2021 discounted membership rates now available to new members


Here are the discounted subscription fees currently on offer to new members for ‘Spring 2021’ and until the end of March 2021*: 

Ordinary Membership (individual membership) £20.00 – Apply here

Joint Membership (group membership for a maximum of two people) £32.00 – Apply here

Under 30 Membership (individual membership for people under 30 years of age) £15.00 – Apply here

Corresponding Membership (individual membership for people who live outside of the North West region of England or who would like to support the Society but do not plan on attending lectures) £7.50 – Apply here

Student Membership (individual membership for people in full-time education) £3.00 – Apply here

Please note that you must be sixteen years or over in order to be eligible for membership.

*New discounted rates will be offered before the start of our summer term. Former members are not eligible for discounted subscription fees. If you wish to reactivate a lapsed membership please contact the Office by email.

The Lit & Phil's e-programme

2nd December, 2020


Earlier this year, we created a new e-magazine to keep the 'discussion for lively minds' flowing.  In case you missed any of the seven editions, here they are again:


Plagues and Pandemics

Plants that changed the world

Education: Past and Future


The arts in times of stress

A Taste of the History and Culture of Manchester



Each edition suggests various online media items which you could look at, listen to, and also discuss on an online forum which we set up.

Have a read: who knows where the journey will take you?

MCR History Talks

23rd November, 2020


Did you miss the MCR History Talks podcast series earlier this year?  The episodes are still available for you to download and listen to.


There are three episodes for you to enjoy:

MCR History Talks: Health

MCR History Talks: Tourism

MCR History Talks: Alcohol and Drinking Cultures



Jessica White is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Manchester. Her thesis looks at the history of female identity in Britain’s inner cities from the 1970s, exploring the history of motherhood, feminism, race and multiculturalism. Jessica is currently the reviews editor for the European Review of History. 

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @Jes_sca


Adam Waddingham is a PhD candidate in Modern History at The University of Manchester. Broadly speaking, his research asks this question: where did Brexit come from? In constructing an intellectual history of Euroscepticism, Adam explores conceptions of political identity, constitutionalism, and race and multiculturalism. Adam is the co-convenor for the Political Studies Association’s Politics & History Group as well as an ardent follower of Manchester City. 

Follow Adam on Twitter: @adamwaddingham


We're hiring!

12th November, 2020


UPDATE 25th November 09:41 - We have been thrilled by the response to our advert and are now no longer accepting applications for the role.



Are you looking to start a career in events administration?  Do you believe in the value of education for all?  If so, we'd love to hear from you.



The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society is looking to recruit a third member of staff to support our plan to grow membership numbers, develop our programme and professionalise the administration of the Society.  The Society was established in 1781 with the object of promoting the advancement of education and public interest in any form of literature, science, arts or public affairs and we currently organise a programme of 30 lectures each year by acknowledged experts in a wide range of subjects.  This is an exciting time to join our organisation as we work on key projects to increase our profile.


Purpose of role

The Events and Development Administrator will carry out routine, but nonetheless essential administrative tasks which contribute towards the smooth running of the Society. With an overall workload prioritised and managed by the Partnerships and Membership Development Manager, the Events and Development Administrator will also play an important role in flexibly assisting in a friendly manner all staff, officers, Sections and Council in our joint effort towards growth.


Key responsibilities

  • Events management
  • Co-ordinating membership
  • Finance and Administration
  • Assisting the Partnerships and Membership Development Manager and Operations and Volunteers Manager with projects to support our plan for growth


To be successful in this role you will need to:

  • Have a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office – including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.
  • Be able to communicate confidently and clearly both orally and in writing.
  • Be able to work as part of a team.
  • Have an ability to follow instructions and excellent attention to detail.
  • Display a positive, flexible and helpful attitude to fellow staff, officers, all members and wider partners.
  • Have a commitment to the beliefs of the Lit and Phil.


For further information about the role please see the job description.

To apply please send a full CV and covering letter to saying why you are the right person for the job, paying close attention to the key responsibilities and skills listed in the job description.

Please note that we will be assessing applications as and when they are submitted, so interested candidates should apply as soon as possible.

As we are currently working from home shortlisted candidates will be interviewed online.

AGM - Tuesday 22nd September 2020

7th September, 2020


The Annual General Meeting of The Manchester Literary & Philosophical Society will be held online, via the BlueJeans platform, on Tuesday 22nd September 2020 at 6.30 pm. 

Members who wish to attend the meeting should register here.

NB Registration is a two-stage process.  Once your details have been approved by a moderator you will receive an email with details on how to 'join the event' on the night.

*Registration closes at 5.00 pm on Friday 18th September so if you would like to attend please register in good time.*


We are very excited about going online this term!  It will be the first term of our 239th year, the society having been formed in 1781. Usually we offer a variety of lectures at venues such as the Royal Northern College of Music and the Manchester Conference Centre, as well as external events, and smaller seminars.  However, we cannot safely access these places yet, and we want to continue to offer our members the usual high standard of lectures.  So, during this term there will be lectures every 1-2 weeks, and the emphasis will be on lectures organised by the Science and Technology Section of the Society, though not exclusively. In 2021 we intend if at all possible to offer ‘live in-person’ events as soon as it is safe and practical to do so, especially as the social side of the Society is greatly valued by members.

We also encourage our current members to use the online facilities - in particular, our online forum:

And we look forward to welcoming new members (please see here for details on how to join). Members have the benefits of priority booking, special invitations to ‘members only’ events and full access to our annual ‘Manchester Memoirs’ publications.  Guests and non-members will be welcome too, though a small donation will be requested when you register for the event.  Towards Christmas we shall have a clearer idea of how we continue into 2021 but be reassured that we have many lectures already planned for the rest of the academic season.


Dr Susan Hilton, President


*Please find a downloadable pdf version of the brochure below.

PDF icon Autumn 2020 brochure


Black Lives Matter - Statement

11th August, 2020


The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society would like to announce that we fully support the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement.  The Society was formed in 1781 and has a long and varied history which we now feel it is vital to explore and reflect upon in a meaningful way.


In the 1700s, the prosperity the thriving textile industry brought to Manchester was built on the back of slavery; but the city’s outrage at the slave-trade led to local anti-slavery campaigners playing a key part in the abolition of slavery in 1833.  We are planning a public research project to explore the Society’s connections to Manchester’s complex history around this time and would welcome expressions of interest from MA students with a keen interest in this period.  We are particularly interested in hearing from young researchers of BAME heritage and this will be a paid position. 


For more information please contact our office: 





Message from the President

4th August, 2020

I hope that you are all keeping well and beginning to enjoy a little more freedom of movement during these uncertain times.  The new ‘normal’ seems to change by the day, but we must all remain very vigilant.  However, I look forward to the day when I can hug our grandson properly!

The Lit & Phil staff and committees continue to actively plan future events though for now we cannot book any of our normal venues.  We very much hope to do so when it is safe and practical.  Be assured we are in regular contact with each venue and are constantly on the lookout for any alternatives.  The full series of online lectures starts on 7 September, and the autumn programme is about to be sent out, containing all the details.  

Please have a listen to the two most recent podcasts, delivered by Jessica White and Adam Waddingham, two PhD students from the University of Manchester History Postgraduate Network.  Their respective themes are ‘Health’ and ‘Tourism’ and have been created specifically for the Lit & Phil.  I want to express my enormous gratitude to the two of them and applaud their creativity.

Also, please see the message from the Honorary Secretary regarding the AGM and membership of the Section committees (Arts, Science and Technology, Social Philosophy and Young People) and Council.

Our website contains all the up-to-date information. Rachel and Aude continue to work from home for now, though the office space is checked weekly for any mail. Do contact them if you have any queries.


Best wishes,

Dr Susan Hilton, President