Woodstock Literature Society

The Woodstock Literature Society was founded in 2009 with the aim of presenting high quality talks on literature to local book lovers, offering time to socialise after the talk with refreshment (a glass of wine at evening talks/tea and cake at afternoon talks). Since then, its reputation and membership have grown and we are pleased to welcome members and visitors from Oxfordshire and beyond.

Topics range from classic and contemporary authors, to drama, poetry, and foreign authors in translation. Our speakers include academic specialists, published authors, and literary journalists. Full details can be seen under Programmes. Please note that changes to the programme can also be found on the programme page.

Our next talk will be on Saturday, 22nd October at 3.00pm

when Dr David Grylls will give a talk entitled: 'Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn'.

at St Hugh's Hall, Hensington Road

We regret that we cannot accept card payments as we do not have the facilities in place to do so. We can accept cash or cheques, or payment by direct transfer to our bank account. For full account information please email lindaglees@btinternet.com

The Woodstock Literature Society reserves the right to change the programme should circumstances require. Any changes to an event will be posted on the website, so please check before starting your journey, to avoid potential disappointment.

Floral Tribute


Evening will come, however determined the late afternoon,

Limes and oaks in their last green flush, pearled in September mist.

I have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks,

Zones and auras of soft glare framing the brilliant globes.

A promise made and kept for life - that was your gift -

Because of which, here is a gift in return, glovewort to some,

Each shining bonnet guarded by stern lance-like leaves.

The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands,

Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century's weight.


Evening has come. Rain on the black lochs and dark Munros.

Lily of the Valley, a namesake almost, a favourite flower

Interlaced with your famous bouquets, the restrained

Zeal and forceful grace of its lanterns, each inflorescence

A silent bell disguising a singular voice. A blurred new day

Breaks uncrowned on remote peaks and public parks, and

Everything turns on these luminous petals and deep roots,

This lily that thrives between spire and tree, whose brightness

Holds and glows beyond the life and border of its bloom.


By Simon Armitage

Summer Reading Group: ‘The Age of Innocence’ by Edith Wharton

at Woodstock Town Hall on Wednesday, 17th August 2022

I believe I was the only attendee for whom Edith Wharton was a new author and I arrived clutching my notes in some trepidation. Linda welcomed everyone and invited us to introduce ourselves, from which it soon became clear as well as attendees from Woodstock and surrounding villages, participants had travelled from as far afield as South Newington and Faringdon.

Trevor set the stage for our discussion giving an excellent overview of the book as well as a background of the author, and we were off! There was a lovely free flowing sharing of views; I was quietly pleased some matched my jottings. It was fascinating hearing other opinions with everyone being able to contribute to the debate. By the end of the morning, I felt I wanted to revisit the book but perhaps I should first look at Edith Wharton’s other books which were suggested: ‘The Custom of the Country’, ‘The House of Mirth’ and the novella ‘Ethan Frome’. In the meantime, I am in eager anticipation of Peter Kemp’s talk next month (see above).


I was pleased to hear that in view of the interest shown in the event, further groups might well be run in due course.

Julia Johnson

A taster of a selection of photos from the WLS Summer Party 2022

Whilst we do not currently have pre-booking for our talks, we operate a system of preferential entry for our members up to ten minutes before the talk starts. We strongly recommend all attendees to allow plenty of time for parking (there is a car park at St Hugh’s Hall). The S3 Oxford-Chipping Norton bus service stops in the town centre on the A44, as does the S7 Oxford-Woodstock via Summertown and Kidlington.

Please email us if you have general or membership queries.

We hope you will enjoy the reviews submitted to A Good Read by members and friends as part of our conversations about literature. Details of how to submit a piece can be found on the page itself.

A selection of images used for the publicity posters for talks in recent years

AFTER THE STORM - Saturday, 19th February 2022

Just as we were getting into our stride with the 2022 Lecture Programme, in blew Storm Eunice. Our speaker wanted to keep the engagement with us. After an anxious wait, on Saturday morning there was confirmation that the Chiltern line was operating, and we were relieved and delighted to welcome Professor Rosemary Ashton to Woodstock (details of her talk are on the Reviews & Gallery page). We appreciate Professor Ashton's determination as, having endured a fairly fraught rail journey to Oxford, her return to London was even more protracted.

Woodstock Church (our venue) in sunlight.

Linda and Professor Ashton striding purposefully along Park Street, heading for the church.

A Robin watching audience arrive.

Whether you are a reader, a writer, or a poet, Woodstock Literature Society welcomes your input and suggestions for future talks.