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.



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

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