The Royal Society of Literature is the senior literary organisation in Britain, founded by George IV in 1820 to ‘reward literary merit and excite literary talent’. Today, the leading living writers are elected to its Fellowship; lectures, readings and literary discussions are arranged, and we have a doughty record of campaigning on behalf of the writer and the written word.
Lectures, discussions and readings take place ten times a year. After these events Fellows, Members and their guests have the opportunity to chat over a glass of wine. Recent speakers have included Claire Tomalin, Philip Pullman, Rose Tremain, Orlando Figes, U.A. Fanthorpe, Peter Porter, Tessa Blackstone and Lyndall Gordon. These events are normally held at Somerset House, in central London; in its early years, the Society held its meetings in Hatchard’s bookshop, on Piccadilly, London.
In addition to the regular meetings, the Society holds two joint meetings each year with the Royal Society to explore cross-currents between literature and science. Recent speakers at these have included Richard Holmes, Michael Frayn, Lewis Wolpert, John Carey, P.D. James and Richard Dawkins. In September 2004, Ben Okri delivered a lecture entitled “Beauty in science and literature”; this lecture is available to view as Video-On-Demand from the Royal Society’s Website.
The Society is responsible for administering and awarding four literary prizes, awards the Benson Medal, and confers the honour Companion of Literature on writers of conspicuous attainment.
In August 2000 we moved offices to the newly restored south building of Somerset House.
We welcome all those with an interest in literature as Members; you need not be a writer. If you would like information on joining the Society, please write to the Membership Secretary.
Last modified: 6 October 2004
"Perfection is a full stop .... Ever the climbing but never the attaining Of the mountain top." W.G.