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Where to find: Top 5 Literary Salons in London

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Image © Facebook via @riffraffldn

We pick out the best places to discuss literature, for film-lovers or for keen readers, from LGBT-friendly to interactive.

With a name that can be perceived as snobbish and pretentions, the locations of today's literary salons can often go unnoticed. In laymens terms, a literary salon is a place defined as a meeting place for scholars of literature, or a collection of likeminded individuals to gather and discuss literary topics together. Nowadays, of course you don't have to be a scholar, nor likeminded. Just passionate. And in London, live literature is thriving. The impulse to talk about literature, and learn more by discussing it with a group of people, is one that is still prevalent in society today, albeit in a slightly different format. From poetry open mic nights to the Brave New Word series, which features bold new material in a relaxed setting. The original salon format may have been updated slightly - it is unlikely that the 18th century salonniers drank cocktails and talked about Twitter - but there are a wide variety of events to try if you love literature. Whether you're looking for a new experience or searching to broaden your literary scope with a modern twist, we've compiled the perfect list of Literary Salons in London for you to explore. From interactive, LGBT+ and much more. 

The Last Tuesday Society

Image Credit: The Last Tuesday Society via Facebook

London's longest running literary salon was founded in 1873 at Harvard by William James and thereon, decades later, brought to London as a "pataphysical organisation" in autumn of 2006. Run by Viktor Wynd and Amber Butchart, the The Last Tuesday Society is dedicated to subverting life, the universe and everything in-between. It has had a series of eminent speakers, from Alasdair Gray to Philip Hoare, Marina Warner to D.J Taylor. In true salon fashion, their talks and lectures centre on discussion of cultural phenomena and trends, but with a more modern perspective.

In addition there's a cracking museum and award winning absinthe cocktail bar attached to the venue, making your visit even more intriguing and enjoyable. If you're unable to attend the venue itself, a lot of their previous discussions and panels are available to stream online for just £5. Click here to access them.

Tickets for the month of June are £19 upwards. Discover more about The Last Tuesday Society.


Polari Literary Salon

Image Credit: Justin David

Polari is London's well-known LGBTQ+ literary salon, founded by author and journalist Paul Burston, who curates and hosts the salon's events. The society boasts an impressive list of former speakers, which includes Sarah Waters, Philip Hensher, Will Self, Ali Smith and Adam Mars-Jones, and its focus is predominantly on the views of marginalised literary voices.

Upcoming events for July include Polari at the Bradford literature festival described as a party cabaret where the performers are actually writers, the festival showcases brand new LGBTQ+ talent through a high energy and thought provoking evening, Polari at the British Library showcasing a lineup of former Polari prize winners with exceptional authors and speakiers such as Angela Chadwick, John McCulloughadn Mohsin Zaidi and Polari at the Sangam festival showcasing LGBTQ+ writers with a south east- asian hertiage. Tickets starting from just £1. 


Literary Death Match

Image © Twitter via @litdeathmatch

An entertaining update on the classic idea of a literary salon. Literary Death Match features four people reading their own writing for seven minutes or less, who are then judged on literary merit, performance, and intangibles. The two finalists then battle it out in a literary game show style finale to decide the winner of the Literary Death Match Crown. 

Co created by Adrian Todd Zuniga, marrying the literary and performance aspect of Def Poetry Jam sprinkled with an air of American Idol judging (without the unnecessary sass). Its mantra is to put passion behind finding new and innovative ways to present text off the page and with performances being held worldwide, it's definitely worth attending. 

They're upcoming tour dates for London have not been released yet, but keep an eye on their website for updates and further information. 


The Riff Raff

Image Credit: The Riff Raff via Facebook

Birthed from the minds of Amy Baker and Rosy Edwards, with the aim of creating a welcoming community where debut authors could come and read their work to a crowd of fellow writers and literary enthusiasts. It's an informal opportunity of upcoming writers to meet likeminded people who have also just had their work published. 

The Riff Raff offer supportive mentoring programmes for individuals looking for advice and support with a standard fee of £750 for three months. Though some authors offer lowered fees for those with less disposable income. They also offer manuscript feedback (essential and extremely helpful for first time author's out there). 

They also have a interesting podcast you can tune into here

They're latest event dates are yet to be released but keep an eye on their website and event updates here.


The London Literary Salon

Image Credit: The London Literary Salon via Facebook

The London Literary Salon works with the intention of building a community around the study of literature and ideas, with talks spanning from ancient times right up until today. Their aim is to bring communal focus and fun to literary texts whilst still maintaining an educated conversation amongst attendees. Their focuses span from poetry and drama to ancient texts and biblical studies. 

Their study calendar is packed with many mediums of literature. Sessions are either online or in person offering more accessibility to those that aren't regional to the discussion. To explore their upcoming studies, click here.

Ticket prices are dependant on the event. To find out more, click here.


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