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 

Cancellations and Refunds Policy:

For weekly, virtual or local studies:
In the rare case that the facilitator needs to cancel the study, participant payment will be refunded 100%
If the participant is unable to attend a study that they have committed to with full payment, the refund will be at the instructor’s discretion–usually based on the ability to re-sell the participant’s place.
For travelling studies:
In the rare case that the facilitator needs to cancel the study, participant payment will be refunded 100%
If the study needs to be cancelled for reasons beyond the facilitator’s control (weather, pandemic, force majeure), the majority of the payment will be refunded less the administrative cost of setting up and preparing the study (up to 30%).
If the participant is unable to attend a study that they have committed to with full payment, the refund will be at the instructor’s discretion–usually based on the ability to re-sell the participant’s place.

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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.
On facilitation
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What’s coming up?

january 2021

05jan4:00 pmThe Dead by James Joyce Salon IntensiveVirtual Salon4:00 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:One Off EventDuration:One day

11jan12:30 pmMarcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time Vol. I The Way by Swann's***SALON FULL***12:30 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Nine weeks

11jan3:00 pmUlysses by James Joyce: First-timers Afternoon and Evening options**BOTH STUDIES NOW FULL**3:00 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

14jan4:00 pmMrs Dalloway by Virginia WoolfVIRTUAL STUDY 4:00 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Four weeks

27jan7:30 pmThe Captive & The Fugitive -- Volumes V & IV of Proust's In Search of Lost Time7:30 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Three months

february 2021

08feb6:00 pmHamlet by William Shakespeare with Jane Wymark6:00 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Six Weeks

15feb6:00 pmHenry James: The Portrait of a Lady Seven-week Virtual study** New Study**6:00 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Seven weeks

16feb2:00 pmHomer's IliadEIGHT-MEETING VIRTUAL STUDY2:00 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Eight weeks

23feb4:30 pmNew Kid by Jerry Craft - *Virtual Study*Winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal for Excellence in Children's Literature4:30 pm GMT VIRTUALType Of Study:Middle Grades LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Five weeks

24feb6:00 pmThe Sonnet - Creativity and Constraint6:00 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Two weeks

25feb1:00 pmSanctuary by William FaulknerNEW study! 1:00 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:Weekly

april 2021

14apr(apr 14)6:00 pmThe Years by Virginia Woolf Five-day study in St Ives *NEW DATES*Immersive Study of Woolf's family saga in her beloved Cornwall6:00 pm St Ives, CornwallType Of Study:Literature,TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:Five days

may 2021

02may(may 2)12:00 pmHomer's Odyssey in Greece: One-week immersionNew Dates12:00 pm Island of Agistri, GreeceType Of Study:TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:Eight Days

29may11:00 amReading the Body: Salon and Yoga retreat in Umbria DATE CHANGE11:00 am Umbria, ItalyType Of Study:TravelFrequency:One Off EventDuration:One Week