The Society makes grants both to individuals and to organisations in support of cultural and scientific activities which increase innovation, outreach and diversity in Leeds and its immediate area. It also supports local museums and galleries and publications relating to the city.

About the Society

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, founded in 1819, is a charity that promotes interest in science, literature and the arts – in the city of Leeds and beyond. We have meetings, lectures, entertainments, publications and visits.


Since 1819, the Phil & Lit has been inviting the people of Leeds to hear from knowledgeable and entertaining speakers. Many are leaders in their field of science, arts or current affairs. We also hold an annual Science Fair and organise occasional visits. Becoming a member means that you’ll receive invitations to all these activities. We currently run a mix of real and virtual events. Scroll down to see upcoming events. Click on an event to book your space.

Programme of Events 2024

18:00 Thursday 4 January – Chris Graham: ‘Grown-up politics needs a grown-up voting system – our future depends on it’ – at the University of Leeds

13:00 Thursday 18 January – Jo Nash: ‘John William Inchbold (1830-1888) the Leeds Pre-Raphaelite’ – at Leeds Art Gallery

19:30 Wednesday 7 February – Sir Vince Cable: ‘Big business and the democratic process’ 

19:30 Monday 12 February – Lesley Newnham: ‘The John Tradescants, Father and Son plant and ‘curiosity’ collectors’

18:00 Wednesday 20 March – Prof Gordon Love: ‘Light, camera, optics!’ Widening the scope of research about seeing and understanding – The Liberty Building, Western Campus, University of Leeds

18:00 Tuesday 16 April – Dr Stephen Caunce: ‘Defoe’s visit to Leeds in 1724’ – at The Leeds Library

18:00 Thursday 9 May – Andrew Filarowski: ‘Dyes and Dyeing in Leeds – Past & Present’ – Liberty Building, Western Campus, University of Leeds

18:00 Tuesday 21 May – Prof Ian Brooks: Inspirations from the atmosphere: techniques and art of etching & printmaking’ – Liberty Building, Western Campus, University of Leeds

19:30  Friday 7 June – Jacki & Robert Lawrence: ‘Smeaton of Austhorpe’ – the Father of Civil Engineering born 8 June 1724 – at Whitkirk Community Centre.

13:00 Thursday 20 June – Jane Mitchell: ‘Scarlet & greys to black & white: the art of war in Leeds Art Gallery from Lady Elizabeth Butler to Nevinson’

12 July – morning visit to Rodley Nature Reserve – for up to 30 visitors

18:00 Thursday 5 September – Dr Kathryn Ferry: ‘Victorian drinking fountains’ – at The Leeds Library

19:30 Wednesday 18 September – Dr Wenjun Xia: Artificial Intelligence and the human mind: get to know consciousness before asserting that AI possesses it’ – online only

14:30 Tuesday 1 October John Roles Memorial Lecture – Dr Gillian Cookson ‘Industrial Revolution in Leeds: the great variety of innovation in a prospering eighteenth-century town – Leeds Art Gallery

18:00 Monday 21 October – Professor Ian Richardson: Joseph Aspdin and the invention and production of Portland Cement’ – on the 200th anniversary of Joseph Aspdin’s patent

18:00 Wednesday 6 November The Annual Priestley Lecture – Dr Catherine Walsh: ‘The James Webb Telescope and implications for humanity’

11:00-16:00 Saturday 16 November Science Fair at Leeds Museum, Millennium Square

18:00 Monday 25 November – Prof Nick Plant: ‘Rubbish dumps and baby bottles: why toxicology is important’

18:00 Thursday 5 December: Annual General Meeting & Dinner

More details closer to the time of the events.



Make a donation

Events are currently free to members and non-members alike. If you would like to make a donation, using this PayPal button is an easy and secure way to contribute to the Society. You will help us to support scientific and cultural activities in years to come.

Join us and help shape the future of the society

Become a member for:

  • Special member-only events and lectures
  • Free and discounted publications
  • A free copy of the Society’s Annual Review
  • Opportunity to join the Council
  • Annual membership £25 per year
  • Free membership for under 25s

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