MEDIA RELEASE – 8 APRIL 2020 (for immediate release)

The impact of COVID-19, which initially threatened disaster, has resulted in one London business going global almost overnight. The Kentish Town-based London Literary Salon, originally established in Paris in 2004 before moving to London in 2008, gathers together small groups of readers to study and discuss outstanding works of fiction, philosophy, poetry and drama by writers ranging from James Joyce and Marcel Proust to Socrates and Homer. In normal times studies range from one-meeting intensives to six-month and two-year odysseys, all based in London, and brief travel retreats to locations around the UK and Europe.
Founder Toby Brothers, who has over 25 years of teaching experience in France, the USA and Japan as well as in the UK explains, “at first I thought that coronavirus spelled the end of the salon, with no prospect of gathering people together for weeks or months ahead. After the initial panic, I took a deep breath and realised I could try to make the studies available online and the virtual salon was born within days.”

The Salon uses the video conferencing app Zoom to link salon participants for sessions that, like the in-person meetings, typically last two to three hours with up to twelve people involved in the discussion. Although initially concerned that remote links would make it difficult to facilitate and respond to individuals, she says the virtual meetings are different but equally effective, with the bonus that they are now accessible to people from all over the world. “The sessions seem slightly more formal, but people are also less likely to talk over each other. We learn from sharing ideas and responses – I get new insights from every study – and the opportunity to include readers from anywhere opens up the experience to many more people. So far, we’ve had participants from the USA, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden, Germany and France as well as those of us here in London and the wider UK.”

Brothers insists that the only qualification for joining her studies is a curious and open mind, she promises that even the most daunting books – forthcoming studies include famously challenging reads such as Ulysses and The Essential Socrates – become more accessible when tackled as part of a supportive group. “Extraordinary times invite extraordinary responses, when asked ‘What did you do during the pandemic?’ some people want to answer ‘I read Ulysses’. We can help them to do that.”

For details of forthcoming courses and costs, see: For more information contact