About us

Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, the ‘Lit & Phil’, holds fortnightly lectures at 7.30pm on Monday evenings throughout the winter. These take place in the main “Victorian” gallery of the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery and are also streamed online using “Zoom”. The lectures cover a broad range of topics in the arts, literature, natural history, philosophy and the sciences. When the Society was formed, “natural philosophy” included astronomy, medicine and the sciences generally.  The Society providesa forum in which members can listen, reflect, ask questions and chat informally with the speaker and other members of the audience afterwards over refreshments.

The Lit and Phil was founded in 1835 to provide opportunities for local people to hear lectures from speakers who are experts in their fields. The Society was influential in establishing New Walk Museum (now Leicester Museum & Art Gallery) in 1849, the City Library in the 1860s and Leicester University College (now the University of Leicester) in 1920. Today its links with local universities and Leicester Museum & Art Gallery remain strong and it is a registered educational charity.

Prizes are awarded to graduating students in English at De Montfort University, Loughborough University and the University of Leicester and regular lectures are held for local schools.

The Society has long established Geology and Natural History Sections which organise summer field trips, winter lecture programmes and workshops.

Recent speakers have included:

  • The Hon. Michael Attenborough CBE. D Litt.
  • Art experts: Professor Greg Walker FRHS FEA FSA FRSE, Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Medical Specialists: Professor Andrew J Pollard FMedSci, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity. University of Oxford, Sir Kent Woods MD HonFBPhS
  • Biographer: Professor Gordon Campbell FBA
  • Astronomer: Professor Martin Barstow, Space Park Leicester Project Director
  • Chemist: Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff CBE FRS
  • Geneticists: Professor Mark Jobling, Dr Turi King
  • Geologists: Dr Ian Bastow BSc MRes PhD, Professor John Dewey FRS Professor Richard Fortey FRS, Professor Simon Conway Morris FRS
  • Environmentalists : Craig Bennett Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Professor Nick Davies FRS,Professor of Behavioural Ecology, University of Cambridge

Benefits of Membership include:

  • You can hear lectures by leading national experts from a wide range of subjects spanning the arts and the sciences.  There are normally about twelve lectures each season.
  • You can attend the biennial Peach Memorial Lecture at the University of Leicester, which covers aspects of art, design, architecture and conservation.
  • You can become a member of the Geology or Natural History Sections at a reduced rate. They have their own newsletters and websites.
  • The Annual Transactions of the Society – which contain summaries of the previous year’s talks are published on the website here. Upon request members can receive a paper copy of the Transactions.
  • Membership subscriptions are modest because of generous sponsorship by De Montfort University, Loughborough University, The University of Leicester, the British Science Association , The Royal Society of Chemistry, as well as memorial funds.

Join us!

New members are always welcome. Please email: join_us@leicesterlitandphil.org.uk and we’ll send you a membership form.

Annual Subscriptions:

  • Single membership: £20
  • Joint membership £35.00, both applicants living at the same address
  • Students under 25 from schools and H.E. institutions: £10

The Society is a Registered Charity No. 1047498