It all began with a letter from Foyle’s in January 1947 to the Mayor of Newport, Alderman Reg Tyack, suggesting that Newport might like to follow the example of other towns and organise a literary club. Foyle’s had inaugurated these clubs and had a speakers’ agency. Approaches were then made by the Mayor to the Principal of Caerleon training College, Major TJ Webley, also the editor of the South Wales Argus.
The first dinner and lecture was held at the Westgate Hotel on the 23rd April 1947; we assume that the date was chosen to coincide with Shakespeare’s birthday.
The dinners have continued since then and we now meet about six times a year for our dinner/lectures and, in addition, organise annual excursions to see plays at the Globe Theatre, London or the Theatre Royal, Bath. We also hold coffee mornings in the summer months. In the last sixty years we have had a reputation for providing speakers of distinction to talk on subjects of literary or general artistic interest. The speaker for the fiftieth anniversary was Lady Healey and in recent years we have had such eminent speakers as David Crystal, Aeronwy (daughter of Dylan Thomas), Peter Kemp (President Johann Strauss Society), Sheridan Morley, Arnold Wesker, Colin Dexter, Dannie Abse and Dr John Davies (Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales). We welcome local authors and are indebted to Academi for their financial support towards the literary speakers.