Glasgow Athenaeum Lectures, December 1873: Miss Emily Faithfull


Miss Emily Faithfull (1835-95), the English women’s rights activist, and publisher.


An article on page three of The Glasgow Herald, on Wednesday the 17th of December, 1873, under SOIREES, LECTURES, &c., reads:


“ATHENAEUM LECTURES.—Last night, Miss Emily Faithfull delivered a lecture in the large hall of the Athenaeum to an audience

quite filling the room. The subject of lecture was ‘The best society—our book shelf.’ Sheriff Galbraith presided, and on the platform

were Sheriff Murray, Bailie Moir, Councillor Scott, Rev. Mr Sprott, Mr John E. Watson, &c. The Chairman having introduced Miss

Faithfull to the meeting, the fair lecturer proceeded with her address. She began by observing that the higher circles of society were

only partially open to those beneath, but the society of which she wished to speak was alike open to all, but only by patient labour

and effort. Going on to notice the advantages conferred by admission into this circle, she said that in the society of books there was

no sham, no tinsel; there was nothing fictitious. Books never intruded on us as unbidden guests, nor did they overstay their

welcome. They helped us to forget crosses and disappointments, and to lose sight of our difficulties. They were the only friends

who were liable to no change. Noticing the class of books to read, Miss Faithfull implored her audience to shun fashionable novels

and sentimental rhymes. Books were educative only when they were digested and assimilated, and the latter class of books needed

no digestion, on the contrary, it rather destroyed the power of digestion. Having glanced briefly at other departments of literature,

she concluded by saying that we could not claim to have an acquaintance with our noblest intellects till we had learned to make

their thoughts our own—till we succeeded in carrying these thoughts about with us and applying them to the daily requirements of

our lives. Our ambition should be not to know books but things, not to read books that we might be able to say to others that we had

read them, but for the sake of understanding the subjects of which they treated. At the close, a cordial vote of thanks was passed to

Miss Faithfull on the motion of the Chairman, and a like compliment having been paid to Sheriff Galbraith, the meeting separated.”


An advertisement for the lecture can be found on page two of the Herald, on Monday the 15th of December. Tickets were one shilling each.