Dowanhill Society of Belles Lettres


Dowanhill is an area in the West End of Glasgow. (For a brief summary of its history, see ‘History of Byres Road. The birth of the West End‘ on the Visit West End website). This literary society was composed of young men and women from the area, or ‘adherents of Dowanhill Church’, which was located on Hyndland Street. (For a brief history of the church, see ‘Dowanhill UP Church‘ on The Glasgow Story website). The subscription fee was one shilling for the year, which was cheaper than the average for literary societies during this period (2s 6d).

The group met on the last Monday of each month to discuss three pre-selected books (members were only required to read one of these, or even part of one), and a paper was given on each book. It had very strict rules for reading: each member was to read (at least) half-an-hour a day, or three hours a week in total, the Sabbath excluded. In fact, a fee was incurred for not reading for this prescribed amount of time.

Date of Existence


Source of Information

(Society brochure with ‘Objects’ and ‘Rules’)


Mitchell Library Special Collections

Reference Number

Glasgow Scrapbooks, No. 23, p. 234

Additional Notes

Also includes a list of office bearers and committee members.