Glasgow Literary Forum (aka Glasgow Public Literary Forum)


This ‘literary forum’ was primarily a debating society that posed one question at each meeting which its members then discussed. In 1823, gentlemen were allowed to introduce a lady to the meetings.

Included in the earliest minute book is ‘A List of Questions for the Literary Forum’. Here are a couple of examples from the list: ‘Is Knowledge and Happiness one [sic] the increase through the World?’; ‘Will a period ever arrive when War shall sease [sic]and peace become permanent of the Earth?’. In addition, they debated the emancipation of slaves in the West Indies, the working class right to vote, the pros and cons of English and Scottish poor laws, and the profanation of the Sabbath. The 1837-1840 Minute Book shows that this literary club also discussed literature.

Questions discussed in these later years included current issues like the Corn Laws (20 January 1838), a debate whether ‘suffrage [was] to be extended’ (27 January 1838), and ‘Is the diffusion of general literature through the medium of the Press favourable to Theatrical Entertainments?’ (17 February 1838). Essays were also read (as of 1 June 1838). These later meetings took place in Begg & Stenhouses’s Tavern on Hutcheson Street, in the heart of the city centre.

Date of Existence


Source of Information

1. Minute Books, 1822-25; 1837-40 (later minute book becomes minute book for cricket club);

2. Houston, William, Account of the origin, progress and present state of the Glasgow Public Literary Forum… (Glasgow, 1824)


Mitchell Library (ML)

Mitchell Library Special Collections (MLSC)

Reference Number

Mitchell (GC), CD378.24 HOU 51071 (ML) (Account of the origin…)

56245, 327348 (MLSC) (Minute Books)

Additional Notes