About us

Our centenary

A century old, a century young

Join in our celebrations

Every Londoner can find their cultural expression at City Lit. You can try something new, re-rediscover past passions, learn new skills, keep active, change career or bring some balance to a busy life. Our centenary will celebrate our community of students, staff and partners.

September 2019 marks 100 years since we opened our doors. Throughout 2019 we'll host a collection of special events, both at City Lit and across the city.

The quest for knowledge, understanding and opportunities for creative expression…the most joyous and exhilarating enterprise in which a human being can engage.” Former Principal, T.G. Williams, on one of the guiding principles of City Lit, 1960.


A brief history of City Lit

  • ‘The City Literary Institute’ opened in Fetter Lane in the City of London with 180 students in September 1919.
  • Following the opening in 1919 - soldiers with acquired hearing loss from the First World War attended lip-reading classes 
  • In 1939 City Lit moved to its first purpose-built home in Stukeley Street, off Drury Lane. The new building was officially opened by the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield. 
  • Second World War - City Lit never closed its doors in the war; during the Blitz on London classes were held in air raid shelters and music on tube platform. One intrepid tutor even wheeled a piano underground for recitals.
  • 2005 - City Lit moves to its purpose-built home here in Keeley Street
  • More information on the history of City Lit

Join in our celebrations

  • Centenary Programme Highlights

    A selection of flagship events that celebrate our centenary year. Events hosted by City Lit's subject areas will also be announced soon.

  • Share your City Lit stories

    Whether you’re taking a course, teaching a course, visiting or working here we want to hear about stories from students, staff, and friends – past and present…

City Lit stories

  • Farrah Idris

    Farrah Idris is a fully qualified, practising complementary therapist, working in the oldest established hospice in London. She specialises in clinical therapies with end of life patients, and is also a tutor in massage (ITEC) at City Lit and hypnotherapist in training.

  • Gillian Anderson

    Gillian Anderson OBE: “Before I visited City Lit in 2013, I had looked through what you do here and the lives you have helped transform, and on that first visit, it was such a privilege to hear just some of the stories of those impacted by such opportunity, I was overwhelmed. What an extraordinary gift to the community, and to this wonderful city'.

  • Jack O'Neill

    Jack decided to take early retirement, but started looking for massage therapy courses in London after deciding the quiet life wasn't for him...Jack is now a fully qualified massage therapist and a professional member of the CThA, and the owner of Holmas Massage, www.holmas-massage.com

  • Lucille Lewin

    Lucille discovered her passion for ceramics on the course following her hugely successful career in fashion and retailing (selling the Whistles business in 2002). Phil Chamberlain, Executive Director (External Engagement) at City Lit said "Lucille's example should be an inspiration to us all. Her story is a reminder that there is never a wrong time to pursue new opportunities or realise new goals.

  • Lucy, Dave and Gene Wilson

    Lucy and Dave met at a Photography taster course at the Visual Arts Open Day in 2017, by the end of the day they had arranged a date, went on to marry and start a family with the arrival of baby 'Gene' last Autumn. Lucy Wilson; "We are firm believers in trying new things - you never know what might happen.”

  • Malorie Blackman

    Malorie Blackman OBE has a long connection with City Lit as a former student attending diverse courses with us since the late 1980s.  Having written over fifty books, Malorie is acknowledged as one of today’s most imaginative and convincing writers for young readers.

  • Penelope Maynard

    Discover how City Lit courses provide inspiration and substance in Penelope’s retirement, and her general view of City Lit after being a student here for a number of years. Having taken over 15 courses, City Lit plays an enormous role in her daily life.

  • Andrea Levy

    After successfully having completed a creative writing course at City Lit, Andrea Levy took the life-changing decision to switch careers and become a writer. City Lit has played an important role in achieving international success, and she is a big believer in adult education.