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MCR History Talks

14th July, 2020

We are thrilled to announce that Jessica White and Adam Waddingham, two post-graduate students from the University of Manchester, have created a podcast series especially for Lit & Phil members.

In episode one of this podcast series, Jessica and Adam discuss the history of health in Manchester.  Joining them is Andrew Seaton from New York University.  Andrew is a PhD Candidate in Modern European History at New York University.  He is a political and social historian working on topics related to the history of science, technology, environment, and medicine.  Jessica and Adam are also joined by Will Ranger from the Living Wage Foundation.  Will is a Manchester based community activist and campaigner who specialises in the political and social history of the city.

This episode will be exclusively available to members for the next two weeks.

If you're interested in joining the Manchester Lit & Phil complete your application today to make the most of our 'first summer free' promotional offer and for further details on how to listen and subscribe to the podcast.


About the Authors

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. 


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.

Lockdown is about to gradually ease, but we all need to be cautious, to avoid the risk of more local lockdowns.  However, I for one am going to enjoy more social contact than we have all experienced over the last 3 months!

Here at the Lit & Phil we have done lots of behind-the scenes work, and getting fully conversant with online meetings, where we have fully planned the autumn season.  News of this will be going out to you within the next few weeks, but I want to confirm that we have set up a full series of online lectures, starting on 7 September. The AGM will take place on 22 September (online) and full details will available in August.  All members who are unable to access online events will be kept fully informed by post as well.  If at all possible live lectures at our usual venues may restart in January 2021, but uncertainty of course remains.

The ‘short-term’ strategic planning group has met frequently – this is the ‘emergency’ group set up when the pandemic started, in order to be able to plan to continue to offer members our usual standard of lecture content and available information.  And we are looking at thoughts about our archives and artifacts, currently held at the Church House offices.  There are some very interesting documents and memorabilia, and it would be good to make them more visible in the future – more on this as ideas are developed.

Please continue to check into our website for up-to-date information, and if you have any queries, please get in touch.  Our very efficient and resourceful staff, Rachel and Aude, despite their ‘office’ space being their own homes, continue to work very hard, are always willing to help you.


Best wishes,

Dr Susan Hilton, President

The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society were deeply sorry to hear about the recent death of Professor Brian Robson, a member of the Society from 1987 – 2005. He graduated from Cambridge University and was a world authority on urban geography. He was appointed as a Professor at the University of Manchester in 1977 and subsequently became Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Pro Vice Chancellor of the University. His OBE was granted in 2010 for services to regeneration. He was also very active in many voluntary organisations in Manchester, making significant contributions to all in which he was involved.

We extend our deep sympathy to his family at this difficult time.

Dr Susan Hilton,

With all of our planned summer lectures now postponed, we have created a new magazine: the Lit & Phil 'e-programme'.  Each edition suggests various online media items which you could look at, listen to, and also discuss on an online forum which has been set up.

We have published six editions so far and the latest one explores 'A Taste of the History and Culture of Manchester', which we are delighted to say was produced in partnership with some key cultural organisations and people in Manchester.


Here's a list of the past editions.  Have a read: who knows where the journey will take you?


Plagues and Pandemics

Plants that changed the world

Education: Past and Future


The arts in times of stress

I hope that you and your families are well and coping in the best way possible at this time.  It is wonderful news for those who have been shielding that you can venture outdoors from 1 June.  It must have been extremely frustrating to stay in your home for so many weeks, especially with such good weather. Let us hope that the easing of the lockdown continues smoothly and sensibly.

It was wonderful to see the Lit & Phil’s very first live online event on 20 May with Dr Kirstie Whitaker being interviewed by Tea Milanovic, a very competent student from Withington Girls’ School, and introduced by Melissa Lord.  There was a lot of preparation in the background for this event and experience gained by all, which will serve the Society well as the season progresses – do look out for news about these as and when we can plan them.  Also, you will very shortly be able to view the recording of Dr Whitaker’s event via the Lit & Phil website.

We very much hope to be able to resume live events when safe to do so, and this will be our overwhelming strategy for the future.  We must be realistic in the meantime, and plan for alternative ways of pursuing the mission of the Lit & Phil while we all adapting to such unprecedented times.  Personally, I really miss the social interaction of face-to-face meetings. Seeing friends and family on a small screen is wonderful, but in no way a substitute for the real thing.  However, all our Council, Section and other meetings are taking place very regularly (online of course!), and we have formed a short-term planning group to specifically deal with the current situation.  We are also contacting all speakers planned for the Michaelmas term programme, to discuss alternative ways of enjoying their presentations, should we be unable to use our usual venues.

If you are accessing interesting online sites, please do recommend them.  Also, please send any suggestions and comments you may have regarding future programming to our office – our staff Rachel and Aude are working from home and do have full access to email and phone messages.  I thank them again for their hard work, technical skills, and their innovative ideas.


Best wishes,

Dr Susan Hilton, President

Lockdown continues, and I firstly want to wish all members and their families best wishes from the Lit & Phil, with the hope that you are keeping safe and well, however limited you are as regards your ability to get away from your home.  There is so much help available to those who must self-isolate, and if you are, then do not hesitate to tap into your local community.  I know that I have discovered some amazing new contacts during these troubled times, especially from some neighbours with whom I have hardly ever spoken.  The atmosphere on Thursday evenings when we all go out and clap for the NHS has been very heart-warming too.

Here at the Lit & Phil, please be aware that there are many activities going on.  Our professional staff, Rachel and Aude, are working from home, and remain very busy with organising the eLit&Phil programme, the Forum, and the online events currently being planned (please look out for further details).  We are also contacting all of our booked speakers for this term and the next, to see if they may be able to deliver their talks in this way.  We are trialling methods of doing this as easily and effectively as we can, so do read all the communications we send to you.  We are also putting together a robust strategy for the different scenarios as we gradually come out of lockdown, however long that may take.  The needs of those members who are not online, and for those who have technical difficulties accessing online events are also being addressed – so, please stay with us!

The importance of social interaction is acutely felt, of course, by all of us.  Personally, I have really missed meeting up with so many people at the regular Lit & Phil events.  And the ‘virtual hugs’ with my family, and especially our little grandson, are not quite the same as the real thing!  However, there are so many ways of keeping in touch – the good old phone call, the opportunities via a mobile phone, and the computer/tablet have been excellent, and there has been a steep learning curve in the Hilton household with the latter, which I am sure has been replicated amongst many of you.  Do stay in touch via email and by phone and continue to send us any ideas you may have about current and future Lit & Phil activities. 


Best wishes,

Dr Susan Hilton, President


Message from the President

20th April, 2020


Greetings to all our members, and all others who are taking a look at what the Manchester Lit & Phil are getting up to during the lockdown!  Sadly we have had to postpone or cancel all our meetings and events for this summer term, but we still aim to provide some intellectual stimulation during this period, and I strongly commend our new e-programme series, compiled by members along with our very imaginative and creative staff Rachel and Aude (both of whom are working from home for now).  Be reassured that much is happening behind the scenes, and many of us have managed to come to terms with ‘virtual’ meetings – not quite the same as seeing each other in person, but just as effective for discussions, and decisions.

I also hope that you are all keeping safe and well, despite the significant limitations on our daily lives.  If you are able, do get out for your hour’s exercise, at whatever pace suits you.  For those who have to stay at home for health and age reasons, then there is so much extra online.  Please visit the online forum for a list of some of the resources you can now access, such as online ‘virtual’ exhibitions, music, along with your mental and physical health - for instance

Do feel free to make additional suggestions to add to the list on the forum.  Of course, many of us will be picking up the books we were always aiming to read but did not have so much spare time!

As far as the future events go, after this summer, we are actively planning a full series of our lectures but will be reviewing the situation week by week.  We are also trying to organise some lectures/discussions for this term, which can be accessed online and shall let you know as and when we make progress with these.


Best wishes

Dr Susan Hilton, President


Dear Member,


We are now in an unprecedented period of our history, with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting every one of us.  I hope you are all heeding the government advice about the ‘lockdown’ and only going out of the home for the essentials of food, medicine and exercise, with the appropriate social/physical distancing.  On my daily walks I am discovering details of our area in Chorlton and Whalley Range which I had never noticed before, and also appreciating the parks and green spaces which we have in our part of Manchester.

Meanwhile here at the Lit & Phil our wonderful administrative staff have been working from home all week and doing an amazing job.  Do look out for the details of the e-Lit&Phil and join in, if you are able, with the forum discussions.  We are very sad to let you know that we have had to postpone all our summer term lectures and events, but it is the same for everyone, and it must be extremely hard for the venues, the conference, hospitality and the entertainment industries.  Many organisations such as ours will be having to make many changes, and also keep afloat financially during this period.

However, we are hoping that life will return to some form of normality by the summer and as yet, we hope to deliver the full programme of events planned for the 2020-21 season, with most of these already confirmed or in an advanced state of planning.  We shall keep in regular touch with you all and do keep looking at the website.  Be reassured also that I have written to the few of our members who are not online or on email, to keep them in the picture.  We are starting to get used to online meetings, and different ways of getting together in a ‘remote’ way, and I have no doubt the skills we are learning will be of great benefit in the future.

Keep safe, stay at home, keep your mind and body as active as possible, and keep communicating with each other, with your families, and with us!


Best wishes,

Dr Susan Hilton, President, The Manchester Literary & Philosophical Society


Summer 2020 Lectures

31st March, 2020

Our Summer season was due to start on Monday 20th April but as we have all been advised to restrict social contact for the forseeable future all of our planned Summer lectures have been postponed.


With the lectures being cancelled until further notice, and most of us now self-isolating in our homes, we have created an online forum to bring our members together to try something new and to keep the discussion for lively minds flowing!

A few things you’ll quickly discover that make this 'version' of The Manchester Lit & Phil different:

  • It’s Ours. As we build the online community together, we have some great features for creating exclusive content, deeper conversations, richer polls, and online events. Plus, by building our online community off social media, you can have a more efficient and valuable experience with us and each other.

  • There are More Ways for You to Meet Each Other. There are more ways for you to meet other members, who care about the same topics and have a passion for learning.

  • We Can Bring Together Content and Community. This means fresh ideas and new practices and skills that you can take into your daily life.

What You Should Expect From Us

We’re aiming to make your experience on the online forum as worthwhile and interesting as possible, and want you to get five key things it:

  • Get exclusive content and conversations you can’t find anywhere else.  We will regularly publish an e-programme, each with a different theme, and we will aim to approach it from a variety of angles and media. You will have the chance to discuss and interrogate the themes with fellow members and make suggestions for further learning.  And all the activities we will list in the e-programme are free!

  • Meet other members who share your interests, who do the same things, or who care about the same topics.

  • Swap stories, experiences, and ideas (not necessarily advice) around our shared mission.

  • Find a little inspiration, thought-provoking conversations, and expert perspectives each and every day.


Join us online today!