Category Archive 'Clubs'

11 Apr 2014

Travellers Club Chairman’s Report on Opening the Club to Female Membership

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The Evening Standard reports London’s Travellers Club has recently experienced agitation from a portion of its membership demanding that the Club should “join the 21st Century” by opening its membership to women.

Club Chairman Anthony Layden responded with an admirably thorough report, which placed the controversy in fine perspective, quoting extensively the arguments and remarks of members on both sides, and which then delivered judgement.

When I became Chairman in 2010 I observed at that year’s AGM that the Travellers seemed to be doing pretty well, and said I intended to keep it on its existing course rather than seeking any radical changes. I believe “Steady as she goes” is still the right course in the interests of our Club and all its members. I have been surprised to learn, in the course of the discussions of the last few months, how diverse are the ways in which different members use and enjoy the Club. (A fellow member of the General Committee, who has often contributed wisely to our discussions, said at our last meeting that he himself did not come to the Club to talk to other members; he had never sat at the members’ table.)

I believe that continuing to create an atmosphere in which members can use the Club in different ways, an atmosphere of tolerance, mutual respect and ready conviviality, is the key to our continued success. It may be that those who value the Club as a place for all-male conversation, and those for whom this is not important, will never fully understand each other’s points of view, let alone come to see things the same way. We all hold different views for a myriad of reasons; conversations at the Club would be pretty dull if we did not!

I hope this report may help to make each side’s views a little clearer to the other. And as I said at the beginning of this report, I hope and urge that those who would personally favour change will hold back from pressing for it for the time being. It does not seem to me that it would accord with our traditions for them to seek to impose change on fellow-members whose enjoyment of the Club this would impair.


Hat tip to Rafal Heydel-Mankoo.


Despite the Club’s present enthusiasm for “all-male conversation,” the Travellers Club is, in fact, the model for Conan Doyle’s Diogenes Club featured in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

“There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger’s Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very soothing atmosphere.”

—- The Greek Interpreter

Charles Graves, Leather Armchairs: A Guide to the Great Clubs of London, 1963, reports:

“The chief tradition of the Travellers’ is that members do not speak to one another. …

The Travellers’ maintains its non-speaking reputation even at luncheon or dinner when members come in with books, newspapers, or magazines in their hands, practically daring anyone to talk to them. Neither talk nor guests, by the way, are tolerated in the library which has a large number of early travel books, diplomats’ memoirs and books in French. There is occasionally some furtive conversation in the (mezzanine) bar, but most members only learn to know each other either on Sundays or in August when they are allowed to use the Garrick. For there, anyone who comes to the luncheon table with a book or newspaper has it firmly removed frok him under the instructions of the secretary by the redoubtable Barker, with the words, ‘Excuse me, sir; it isn’t dome at the Garrick.'”

11 Feb 2011

Century Association Severs Ties to Garrick Club

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The Century Association Clubhouse

One of New York City’s most prestigious club is the Century Association, founded in 1847 by a group including William Cullen Bryant to bring together (originally, 100) men of achievement in the fine arts and literature. The Renaissance-Style 43rd Street clubhouse’s arrogant second-floor loggia seems to sneer down at neighboring mere university-based clubhouses. A Century Club membership has long been a token of full membership in New York City’s intellectual establishment. These days the club has more than 2400 members. The Century’s cuisine is reputedly grand, and its membership enjoys exclusive access to a notable private art collection.

The Century Club began admitting female members in 1989, and this has produced in the minds of many of today’s New York’s most illustrious representatives of the life of the mind A PROBLEM.

The Century Club long maintained reciprocal relations with London’s Garrick Club (founded 1831), allowing members visiting the British capital to enjoy similar exclusive perqs and accomodations, but the Garrick Club’s membership is limited to men, and ladies are permitted entrance to the club only in the company of a gentleman member.

A group of 50 eguality-minded Centurians began agitating for the severance of ties to the wicked Garrick, and after months of the customary argle-bargling, the left as usual got its way.

The membership of the British Garrick Club does not seem to care very much about the loss of the relationship to its colonial cousin . According to the Telegraph, one of them remarked:

It is America’s obsession with political correctness that helps make it such a charmless, humourless and paranoid society, frankly.

Another Garrick member did not think the issue was very important. “The Century’s a crap club anyway.” he said.

22 Jan 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

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And you a law professor!

Anne Althouse is at her best when she is cutting.


, commenting at Breitbart, remarks: The scary part is that four justices think that this does NOT violate the First Amendment. Hat tip to the Barrister.


Bird Dog, at Maggie’s Farm, recommends going to Yale so you can use the Yale Club of New York City, conveniently located on Vanderbilt Avenue right across the street from Grand Central.

It’s easier than that. They even let people who went to Dartmouth and University of Virginia have memberships, and a fair number of clubs in other cities have reciprocal privileges.

It is the cheapest hotel you’d want to stay at in NYC. The second floor lounge is a peaceful refuge where you can read the paper, sip your drink, and watch traffic bustle busily around the PanAm Building out the window. The bar serves generous drinks. Harvard’s New York Club has a larger bar with good big game trophies, but it’s much farther away from the trains and it has a lot fewer rooms to stay in.


In the latest, Jan/Feb 2010, issue of the Yale Alumni Mag, the same chap was eulogized by two classes.


Don Masters started with us in Woolsey Hall in September 1964, served with distinction as an officer in the 82nd Airborne in Vietnam, and completed his Yale degree in 1972. He practiced law in New York City and in Denver through his career, as well as serving in entrepreneurial and general counsel roles. He was particularly active in the recovery community in the Rocky Mountain region. He loved touring on his motorcycle, and died August 31 at a beautiful location near Salmon, Idaho, doing what he loved.


On a sad note, I received notification that Don Masters was killed some time ago in a motorcycle accident in a remote part of Idaho. His body was only recently found, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, having served with distinction in Vietnam.

Sounds like someone I would have liked to have known.

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