At the most recent Annual General Meeting of the Authors’ Club, members voted by a resounding majority to accept the offer made by the National Liberal Club to provide us with a new home.
The move represents a historic homecoming: the Authors’ Club was based at the NLC once before, between 1966 and 1974, and prior to that its premises were located in the same complex, next door at 2 Whitehall Place, in what is now the Royal Horseguards Hotel, for much of its existence. It was within these walls that Club members welcomed Emile Zola and Mark Twain; that Ford Madox Ford took sherry with the poet FS Flint the night he returned from combat in France; and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle won the Authors’ Club billiard handicap four times.
The elegance and authority of the National Liberal Club are in keeping with the history of the Authors’ Club, and its spacious reception rooms will also allow us to bring all our awards under one roof and revive events that have fallen into abeyance through lack of funds and facilities.
The NLC will offer our members full use of its elegant, comfortable premises in Whitehall Place, with its distinguished panelled restaurant and bar, the magnificent pillared ‘Smoking Room’ with open fires and deep Chesterfields, a terrace garden overlooking the Thames, two reception rooms, a billiards room, and a well-equipped business facilities room with computers and internet access. The NLC also has reciprocal arrangements with more than 100 private members’ clubs around the world, from Berlin to Beijing, New York to New Delhi, as well as in many UK cities.
We have an exciting programme of events scheduled for the rest of 2014, with speakers booked for our monthly lunches until November, our three annual literary awards, talks, readings and debates on topics including Is Reviewing Dead? Is Blogging taking over? Is American fiction superior to British? and, in July, on the First World War. We also look forward to co-operating with the NLC’s Literary Circle in staging further events.
The AGM also voted to offer a new level of membership, that of Associate, to fulfil the need of suitably qualified and interested persons who wish to engage with the Authors’ Club but do not have a requirement for full membership of a London club. Associate Members of the Authors’ Club would pay a lesser subscription, but nevertheless enjoy many of the benefits of Full Members, albeit with some restrictions and no access to the host club outside Authors’ Club events.