The original London club

The Literary Club

Next time you find yourself in Chinatown, look closely at No 9 Gerrard Street, which is now a Chinese emporium. You will find a plaque put up by Westminster City Council informing you that this was the location of the Turk’s Head Tavern, where the Literary Club was founded by Samuel Johnson and Joshua Reynolds in 1764.

It was referred to simply as the Club, and met once a week at 7.00pm for supper and conversation until late evening, with the only subject off limits having been politics. Members included the writers Edmund Burke and Edward Gibbon, the playwright Oliver Goldsmith, the actor David Garrick, and the philologist Sir William Jones.

You may notice that the concept was not far removed from the Luxembourg pub evenings.