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Monthly meetings, 6.30 - 7.45pm (doors open at 6.15pm)

Dr Johnson’s House cordially invites you to join Dr Johnson’s Reading Circle for its sixth year. It is an intimate after-hours reading group that meets regularly in the former home of Dr Samuel Johnson, led by an academic who specialises in the eighteenth century.
In previous years the Reading Circle has met six times a year. In the wake of the pandemic, the arrangements for the coming year (Sept 2020-August 2021) are designed to respond fluidly to the situation. For the autumn term, where there would normally be two meetings at the House, there will instead be four Zoom meetings. Plans from January 2021 onwards remain provisional.

The Reading Circle has met for five years in the unique surroundings of 17 Gough Square to read and discuss fiction and non-fiction from, and about, the time in which Johnson lived. When Dr Johnson’s House reopens, the Reading Circle will once more hold its meetings there. While the House remains closed, the Reading Circle will meet on Zoom, with a number of extra meetings included in the price of the subscription. Dr Jane Darcy of King's College London will lead the meetings, which aim to encourage a convivial atmosphere and lively conversation on the themes of pre-selected texts.

Dr Johnson's House Library in the evening

The first meeting will take place on Tuesday 15 September by Zoom (6.30-745) to discuss Samuel Richardson’s Pamela For each meeting, a book will be chosen from a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, both eighteenth-century and modern, including Ian Kelly’s Casanova and Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote. A summer outing to Brighton is planned.

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£60 for an annual subscription which covers all meetings, whether at the House or on zoom. OR £12 per session at the House (includes a complimentary glass of wine). £8 per zoom session.

Tickets and subscriptions:

Choose ticket

Please note that refunds are offered only in exceptional circumstances.

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Dates of upcoming meetings and provisional reading list:


Tuesday 15 September     Samuel Richardson, Pamela

Tuesday 13 October          Laclos, Dangerous Liaison

Tuesday 10 November      Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark

Tuesday 8 December        Ian Kelly*, Casanova


Tuesday 19 January           Lydia Syson* Doctor of Love

Tuesday 16 February         Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote

Tuesday 16 March             Norma Clarke*, Brothers of the Quill  
Tuesday 13 April               
Roy Porter, London: a Social History

Tuesday 18 May                Claire Tomalin, Mrs Jordan’s Profession

Tuesday 22 June              Play-reading: play to be chosen from Eighteenth-Century Women Dramatists (Oxford                                          World’s Classics)

Friday 30 July                  Dr Johnson at the Seaside: an outing to Brighton. Separate booking needed.

*Authors marked with an asterisk have been invited to join the session
If Dr Johnson’s House is open from January 2021, meetings in bold will take place there.

Most books can be purchased from Dr Johnson's House shop at each meeting and we are pleased to offer a 10% discount to attendees of the Reading Circle.

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Jane Darcy has recently been a teaching fellow in the Department of Comparative Literature at King’s College London and also holds an honorary lectureship in the English Department at UCL. Her research interests are in the literature and culture of the eighteenth century and Romantic period. She has a particular interest in Jane Austen and her great love for Dr Johnson. She has recently been researching the history of British seaside. Jane has lectured several times at Dr Johnson’s House and in 2015 set up Dr Johnson’s Reading Circle, now in its sixth year. Her 2013 book, Melancholy and Literary Biography, 1640-1816, takes Johnson as its central focus.

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