Newcastle Lit and Phil

Literary and Philosophical Society (Lit and Phil)


The Lit and Phil was thus the first public building in the world to be lit by electric light bulbs. First Art Gallery in the world to be lit by gas and to stay open in the evening. The Lit and Phil also housed the first Lecture room to demonstrate the possibilities of the incandescent electric light bulb, before a fascinated audience of 700 at the Literary and Philosophical Society on 3 February 1879. Swan’s demonstration at the Lit and Phil came nine months before Edison managed to get a bulb to burn for thirteen hours continuously. The Lit and Phil is open to the public and has the largest independent library outside of London. Armstrong, Swan and Stephenson were all members of the Lit and Phil.

The Literary & Philosophical Society (Lit & Phil) is the largest independent library outside London, housing over 150,000 books. A wide selection of current fiction and non-fiction can be found alongside historical collections covering every field of interest. The Grade II* listed building was opened in 1825 and the magnificent reading rooms remain largely unchanged. Our collection is coupled with an extensive set of periodicals, providing an exceptional resource for both general reader and academic researcher.

In addition to the library, the Society hosts a wide range of events including book launches, concerts, lectures, readings and workshops that cover a variety of topics and issues. Both members and non-members are welcome to attend these events.

The Lit and Phil is a hidden gem that no visitor to Newcastle should miss.