City of Glasgow Literary Society


The object of this society was its members’ intellectual improvement through the reading and discussion of essays written by society members, but this was to exclude the subject of religious doctrine.


A couple of examples of the essays read in their meetings include: ”Friends in Council’ or Reading and Criticism’, ‘Literary Societies’, and ‘a series of extracts from Leigh Hunt’s ‘Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla’ (Minute entry, 23 November 1853, Minute Book, City of Glasgow Literary Society, 1853-63).

Some of the authors that were discussed included Leigh Hunt, Victor Hugo, Thomas Hood, Nicolas Gogol (a member read an original translation of ‘Tarass Boulba’ from the French), and Cervantes.

This group was fairly small in size: the number of members in the early years fluctuated between 12 and 22. They met every other Wednesday from October until April. The subscription charge was two shillings and six pence for the session, which was the average fee for societies during the second half of the century. The society met at various venues across the city, including: the Tontine Hotel (for more information on this hotel see, ‘Tontine Hotel‘ on The Glasgow Story website); Angus’ [sic] Coffee House (Argyle Street); and the Bedford Hotel (54 St George’s Place, off the west side of Buchanan Street in the city centre).

Date of Existence

14 November 1850-1863?

Source of Information

Minute Book, City of Glasgow Literary Society, 1853-63


Mitchell Library Special Collections

Reference Number


Additional Notes

From the Glasgow Libraries Online Catalogue: ‘Note: Handwritten minutes of meetings, and rules of the Society adopted in 1853, with signatures of members at that time’ [accessed 22 January 2018].