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PLS - Peterborough Literary Society

Reference code
Level of description
Peterborough Literary Society
Quantity & Format
1 box Mixed
Personal name
Hartley, H.B.
Hartley, Norah
Hartley, L.P.
Peterborough Literary Society
Peterborough Arts Council
English Association. Peterborough Branch
Scope and content
The Peterborough Literary Society (PLS) had its origins in a branch of the English Association formed in Peterborough on February 13th, 1923, with Mr H.B. Hartley, father of the novelist L.P. (Leslie) Hartley, as its President.

In early 1928 the Association proposed the formation of a literary society, and on February 15th, 1928, the inaugural meeting of the PLS was held. The Society met monthly during the winter, usually on the second Wednesday, from the beginning of September to the end of the following March. Mr Hartley was elected President, his daughter Norah (A.N.) Hartley Secretary and Treasurer, and Miss D.M. Grierson, Chairman of the Society's managing committee. In October 1956 Norah Hartley succeeded her father in the presidency.

Early meetings of the Society consisted of readings by members. The earliest guest speaker appears to have been St John Ervine, who lectured to a general meeting on the subject of "Books, Plays and People" on March 21st 1930.

The PLS was a member of Peterborough Arts Council.

The archive contains papers relating to the Society and the Peterborough Arts Council, of which the Peterborough Literary Society was a member.

The minute books cover committee meetings and general meetings of the Peterborough branch of the English Association 1923-1928 and the PLS 1928-1972 and are the fullest source of information about the PLS in the collection. They include a record of works read or discussed at meetings and the subject of lectures, as well as summaries of income and expenditure and membership registers.

Financial and business papers consist chiefly of invoices and receipts relating to the hire of premises, advertising meetings, and printing.

The files of correspondence deal chiefly with guest speakers and prospective speakers and are fullest for the 1940s and 1950s, when the Society appears to have been able to attract the interest of a number of contemporary writers and critics. There is some evidence that this may have been due in part to the Society's links with L.P. Hartley. Leslie Hartley himself addressed the Society more than once.

Programmes relate chiefly to those meetings addressed by guest speakers, and to which the public was admitted. Speakers included: Sir Osbert Sitwell, Pamela Hansford Johnson, Clifford Bax, E.M. Delafield, and Louis Macneice.

The majority of documents relating to Peterborough Arts Council, of which PLS was a member, date from the period 1949-1953. They include copies of the draft constitution, agenda and minutes of meetings, accounts, and papers relating to a proposed Arts Centre (1949), Peterborough Arts Week, 1951, and Peterborough Arts Festival, 1953.

PLS/1 Minute Books, 1923-1972
PLS/2 Financial and Business, 1928-1973 [in four sub-files]
PLS/3 Membership - miscellaneous, 1947-1960
PLS/4 Correspondence, 1941-1973 [in 57 sub-files]
PLS/5 Lists of speakers and prospective speakers, n.d.
PLS/6 Programmes etc., 1945-1972
PLS/7 Promotional material, n.d.
PLS/8 Miscellaneous publications, lists, and other items, 194?, 1952, 1973
PLS/9 Peterborough Arts Council, 1948-1965, 1971
  • PLS - Peterborough Literary Society
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