Chichester Literary Society doubles its numbers with new venue and busy programme

Ellen Cheshire is the next speaker
Ellen Cheshire is the next speaker

Chichester Literary Society has more than doubled its membership by moving away from an evening slot in Chichester in favour of an afternoon slot in Boxgrove.

Marjorie James and Lois Coulthart, from the society, are delighted with its revival, leaping from around 28 members a couple of years ago to 60 now.

They are seeing all their efforts paying off.

Lois said: “We aim to be a very friendly society and we have monthly meetings with speakers on a wide and varied range of literary topics across a wide range of interests.

“We meet at Boxgrove Village Hall, and we have been there for about a year.

“It is an improvement in terms of facilities and parking. Before, in Chichester, we didn’t have parking.

“We have got new members and we have redesigned our website, and I think that has helped a lot. We have tried to get much more of an online presence on various online local calendars, and we have got leaflets which we distribute in various places around the town.”

Marjorie says she enjoyed the challenge of turning the society around.

“And we have also enjoyed improving the quality of the speakers. We have got four university lecturers this year. We have got some very good people coming.

“With the change of venue, the change of time, the new speakers and a good active committee, we have done well.”

Lois added: “Being a librarian, I have always been interested in books and literary topics. I was new to Chichester. I have only been in Chichester for six years, but I joined the literary society almost immediately, and for me, it has been a way of meeting like-minded people that were interested in literary topics.

“I have enjoyed the speakers and learning about some of the authors that I was not particularly familiar with or didn’t know a lot about.”

Lois feels the challenge now is to continue to increase the membership, but also to attract a rather younger membership, particularly bringing in newly-retired people.

She would be keen to have an influx of people in the 60-70 years age bracket.”

As Marjorie says, it is important to stress it is not a reading group.

“You hear people saying ‘I already belong to one reading group. I don’t want to join another.’ But this is lectures, not a reading group, and we always try to make it very friendly.

“We meet half an hour before the lecture for a glass of wine or a tea or coffee and just to chat.”

Chichester Literary Society meetings coming up for the rest of the year are:

Page to Screen – Ellen Cheshire, May 1, 2-4pm

Thomas Coryat – Jeremy Tomlinson, June 5, 2-4pm

Austen Sisters – Rowan Suart, July 3, 2-4pm

Virginia McKenna, August 2, 2-4pm

Iris Murdoch – Frances White, September 4, 2-4pm

Vladimir Nabokov – Miles Leeson, October 2, 2-4pm

AGM & Romantic Poets – Anne Rowe, November 6, 2-4pm

Christmas Social, December 4, 1-4pm

The Society meets on the first Wednesday of each month (unless otherwise stated) at 1.30 for 2pm at Boxgrove Village Hall.

There is a large car park and disabled access. Get in touch via http://www.chichesterliterarysociety.org.

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