New Literary Club (later became Literary Twenty-One Club)


This group is an interesting example of a literary society whose history was not straight-forward, being the result of alliances made and broken — societies being formed, amalgamated with other societies, dissolved and/or re-formed as new clubs — over the course of its history.

There are varying accounts on the origin and history of this club and the Holyrood Literary Society, their histories being intertwined over the years. Further research on these clubs may help to untangle them. As we currently understand it, The New Literary Club was formed in 1892. In 1896, it became the Literary Twenty-one Club. Even later, it amalgamated with the Holyrood Literary Society and took its name on 24 September 1897, changing its name to The New Holyrood Literary Club. Later it was simply known as The Holyrood Club.

In the 1892 to 1893 session, there were 17 members on the roll (including three Honorary Members). The first meeting of the group was held at 34 Glasgow Street (the residence of the club Secretary, Philip H. Tod). The club determined to meet fortnightly on Saturday evenings at 5pm at Tod’s house (for the time being). The meetings were to alternate between essays and debates, with no games being allowed (as per the norm in some other literary societies during this period).

The club grew to 29 members by the 1895-96 session, just prior to becoming the Literary Twenty-One Club, the name being taken from the number of members it was limited to.

The annual subscription of the Literary Twenty-One Club was 1/6, which was cheaper than the average for other literary societies during this period (2s 6d). Members met at 196 West Regent Street every other Tuesday evening at 8pm. In 1896, the group started its own magazine written by and for its members (see ‘Additional Notes’).

Dates of Existence

9 September 1892 – 21 April 1896; 21 April 1896 – 24 September 1897 (as Literary Twenty-One Club); on 24 September 1897 it amalgamated with the Holyrood Literary Society and took its name; on 3 October 1899, it changed to the Holyrood Literary Club; the club dissolved and a new club formed: the New Holyrood Club (later it was known simply as the Holyrood Club). The Holyrood Literary Society formed in 1894 and (inclusive of its later incarnations) was running up until 1946(?).

Source of Information

1. New Literary Club, New Literary Club Magazine, January 1893; [February?] 1893; [March?] 1893; October 1893; November 1893; December 1893; January 1894; Summer 1894; Spring 1895 [10 issues in 4 bound volumes] (MLSC, 891047);

2. Literary Twenty-one Club, Minute Book No. II, 2 February 1897-28 April 1902 (MLSC, 891047);

3. [The Literary Twenty-one Club Magazine], [Autumn?] 1896 (MLSC, 891047)


Mitchell Library Special Collections (MLSC)

Reference Number

(See records of the Holyrood Club (MLSC, 891047))

Additional Notes

The records for this club are housed together with records of the Holyrood Club.

See Holyrood Literary Society (New Holyrood Literary  Club) and Round Table Club, with whom this club held joint meetings.

See also entry for New Literary Club Magazine and The Literary Twenty-One Club Magazine our sister website, Literary Bonds.