Monday Literary Society

History and past speakers

Until recently, the Lewes Monday Literary Society was called the Lewes Monday Literary Club – and known locally as 'The Monday Lit.' The original club was founded in 1948, by the writers Barbara Willard and Frances Howell. It had its nucleus in the Lewes Liberal Association. Some of its members, who had worked together and become friends, decided to form a literary club. It was stressed from the start that the Club should have no political complexion of any kind.

Leonard Woolf, who regularly attended meetings and chaired many discussions, was president of the Club from 1954 until 1969. The presidency was then held successively by David Daiches, Ian Parsons, Dame Veronica Wedgewood, C. Walter Hodges and Norman MacKenzie. Grace Nichols and John Agard were elected as co-presidents in April 2012.

Among its first speakers were Pamela Hansford Johnson, John Brophy and L.A.G. Strong, all friends of the founders. The Club – and now, the Society – has always been fortunate in its friends, and because of its association with writers and publishers living in the district (and since 1961 with the University of Sussex) we've have a distinguished record of speakers. These have included:  (season ending summer 2012) -

E.M. Forster
John Betjeman
Elizabeth Bowen
Vita Sackville-West
Nigel Nicholson
Asa Briggs
Malcolm Muggeridge
William Plomer
Stephen Spender
Tom Stoppard
Beryl Bainbridge
Margaret Drabble
John Julius Norwich
Steven Runciman
Peggy Ashcroft
Christopher Fry
Elaine Feistein
Penelope Fitzgerald
Quentin Bell
Ann Olivier Bell
Virginia Nicholson
Peter Porter
P.D. James
William Nicholson
Jonathan Miller
A.S. Byatt
Alan Bennett
Quentin Blake
U.A. Fanthorpe
Al Alvarez
Michael Holroyd
Bamber Gascoigne
Ian McEwan
Leon Garfield
Denis and Edna Healey
Posy Simmonds
Claire Tomalin
Ronald Harwood
Richard Holmes
Colin Thubron
Jenny Uglow
Frances Fyfield
Adam Nicholson
Rose Tremain
Abdulrazak Gurnah
Alan Jenkins
Lisa Appignanesi
Richard Davenport-Hines
Artemis Cooper
Antony Beevor
Bridget Cherry
Merlin Holland
Jonathan Buckley
Andrew Roberts
Henry Shukman
John Agard
Grace Nicholls
Kit Wright
Max Egremont
C.J. Sansom
Kate Clanchy
Stella Rimington
Andrew O'Hagan
Daljit Nagra
Katharine Whitehorn
Nicola Beauman
Carmen Callil
Selena Hastings
Helen Dunmore
George Szirtes
Polly Toynbee
Steve Bell
Edmund de Waal
Alison MacLeod