CALLING all readers, writers and thinkers – Hexham’s new Philosophical and Literary Society are looking for your thoughts and feelings on everything from Plato to Proust.

Founder of the society, and tutor in literature and philosophy Darren Harper, first set up the society two years ago in Carlisle, in response to the cuts in funding for adult education in the humanities subjects across the country.

After graduating as a mature student in English and creative writing graduate, Darren spent six years touring across Britain holding residential seminars and workshops for adults on philosophy and literature, and therefore saw first-hand the interest and need for the subject.

“The society was born from a need to plug that educational gap,” Darren said. “Alongside providing a social and creative space for writers and thinkers.”

Darren moved from Cumbria to Hexham last year with his wife, who is a native Northumbrian, and he sensed another opportunity to open up a new branch of the society, which has been met with great popularity since.

Now, the Philosophical and Literary Society has more than 60 members across the two counties, with numbers growing rapidly every month.

To ensure that every member’s interest is being kept, Darren puts every effort into creating a varied term syllabus of educational courses and workshops, suitable to all levels and tastes.

Events thus far have included: an introduction to iconography, and modern spirituality, a discussion regarding controversial issues in a relaxed environment, a talk on the history of Western philosophy and several workshops around creative writing and poetry workshops.

“I aim to construct events around texts or topics which I believe are relatable to everyday, modern life,” Darren said. “Often historical texts will be at the core of these discussions, because I’m a believer that we need to examine our past, along with different cultures, in order to gain a understanding of our own time and issues.”

One great thinker who plays a large role in several of the society’s events is novelist and critic Marcel Proust, most known for his experimental seven-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past, focusing on memory, time and truth.

“To me, Proust is simply marvellous,” Darren said. “He is full of philosophical ideas, and he’s an advocate for art, and the importance of art to human beings, and how we dissect it to better understand ourselves.”

‘The Lazy Philosopher’s Club’ is a regular course devoted to Proust, where members can gather throughout the year to take a laid back approach to his literature and philosophy. It was the brain child of Darren and fellow Proust buff Max Gillespie.

On top of the events, members also have access to the society’s two independent libraries, filled with academic journals, magazines and some rare fiction and non-fiction books. For a full list of upcoming events, or for society membership details, visit