About The London Literary Salon

What is a Salon?

“The Salon is a place for the meeting of minds—to connect, to agree and disagree and to use books as a means through which to ponder the various aspects of human existence and experience it in all of its messy glory. . . It’s the cornerstone of my intellectual world and it’s terrific fun as well!”

Ulysses Salon participant, 2011


The London Literary Salon draws on the Salon tradition of a regular meeting of a committed group of people for the exchange and exploration of ideas. Salon studies are non-didactic, open-ended gatherings where people of all backgrounds come to talk about literature and ideas. Together we work to develop meaning in response to the literature that resonates with our contemporary lives.

Each study is led by a salon facilitator, who strives to create an inclusive atmosphere that emphasizes the insights and questions each participant brings to the discussion. Our facilitators use careful questioning and thorough knowledge of their texts to help participants develop a richer understanding of a complex and rewarding piece of writing. The works of Homer and Shakespeare, Eliot and Joyce, Proust, Faulkner and Morrison are enlivened by a variety of perspectives.

A typical Salon study meets weekly for six to ten weeks—though we also offer one-day intensives, ongoing studies that meet monthly, and even a Proust study that runs for over 2 years. Most of our studies meet in North, Central and South London, in schools, cafes, pubs and private homes. Our group sizes are intentionally small—usually 6 to 12 participants—so that we can keep the atmosphere relaxed and personal, with room to sit back and think.

For each meeting of a study, participants pre-read a portion of the book—usually 30 to 50 pages, depending on the work. We keep reading assignments manageable, to encourage careful reading and to fit our studies into busy lives.

Over the two or three hours of a Salon session, prompted by the questioning of the salon facilitator, your group will give thought to the ideas an author sets out, work your way through unclear passages, and explore the intricacies of a plot, the layers of meaning in a poetic word or phrase, the richness of a dramatic character, and the wealth of connections to broader social and historical movements. Along the way, you’ll be supported with notes and questions to help deepen your immersion into these great books and their world.

You don’t need any specialized knowledge or background in literature to enjoy a Salon study. It is our expectation that most participants will be reading many of the authors for the first time. All you really need is a willingness to read carefully, listen thoughtfully and entertain new and sometimes-challenging ideas.


Click here  to see our schedule of upcoming Salon studies.

Image credit: Jose Barba www.jajed.com 

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I would recommend courses led by Toby to anyone who wants to look at a text in detail in a study group
I was certainly surprised at how much I was thrown off balance by these two astounding writers…I look forward to returning for more
We all came to the group with different backgrounds and interests but Mark has skillfully guided us through a stimulating programme of Greek literature.
I always leave the meetings with a much broader understanding of what we are reading than when I arrived
Everyone feels they get heard and therefore that each of us has a contribution to make
In all of the courses I have attended I have felt a bond within the group, and this contributes significantly to the quality of the discussions
Lovely, intimate groups with in-depth discussions, lots of learning, and friendships are made for life there
I’ve read things I’d never dared read before.  I’ve made new friends and met really interesting people.
Read more feedback ...

What’s coming up?

february 2020

05feb12:00 pmLolita By Vladimir Nabokov12:00 pm PaddingtonType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Five weeks

17feb12:30 pmInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison12:30 pm Kentish Town, LondonType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Two months

april 2020

01apr6:00 pmThe Years by Virginia Woolf Five-day study in St IvesImmersive Study of Woolf's family saga in her beloved Cornwall6:00 pm St Ives, CornwallType Of Study:Literature,TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:Five days

14apr7:00 pmBeloved by Toni Morrison 4-week study just announced!7:00 pm Kentish Town, LondonType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Four weeks

may 2020

03may11:00 amHomer's Odyssey in Greece: One-week immersion **STUDY FULL**11:00 am Island of Agistri, GreeceType Of Study:TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:Eight Days

15may(may 15)5:00 pmHenry James in Rye: A Portrait of a Lady Weekend Retreat **STUDY FULL**5:00 pm The Mermaid Inn Rye SussexType Of Study:Literature,TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:Weekend

31may11:00 amReading the Body: Salon and Yoga retreat in Umbria11:00 am Umbria, ItalyType Of Study:TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:One Week

june 2020

23jun7:00 pmToni Morrison's A Mercy7:00 pm Kentish Town, LondonType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Two weeks

september 2020

05sep12:00 pmHomer's Iliad in Greece: One-week immersion12:00 pm Island of Agistri, GreeceType Of Study:TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:Eight Days

january 2021

12jan12:00 pmUlysses by James Joyce: First-timers Afternoon and Evening options12:00 pm Kentish Town, LondonType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Six months

12jan7:45 pmUlysses Second Tour: Evening Sessions January 20217:45 pm Kentish Town, LondonType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Six months