The Good Humour Club

Exhibitions and events

The Good Humour Club

2013 - 30th September 13



The Good Humour Club project is part of the 300th anniversary celebrations of the birth of Laurence Sterne.

The discovery of a minute book from 1743 in the collection at Shandy Hall of a hitherto unknown society became the inspiration for The Good Humour Club project, which will run throughout Sterne's tercentenary to May 2014. A further minute book of the Club, dated 1781 was located in the Minster Library collection shortly afterwards. Both books contain the minutes from the weekly meetings of an eighteenth-century society called The Good Humour Club, which met in Sunton's Coffee House in the city of York.

The Good Humour Club (c.1725-1800) was a society which celebrated the twin virtues of companionship and conviviality. The members were men who belonged to polite, though not elite, trades and professions; clergymen and doctors rubbed elbows with masons, mercers, and drapers at weekly meetings where a good supper and copious amounts of punch were consumed. The society was also known as 'The Doctor's Club' as each member was given the honorary title of 'Dr.'. Our research suggests that there were four volumes of minutes for the Club in total: the minute book at Shandy Hall being the second, and the Minster volume being the fourth. The Club's minute books are important artefacts of a forgotten piece of Yorkshire history. The search continues for minute books I and III.

Later in the year, a period dramatisation (via a podcast) will bring to life a meeting of the Good Humour Club on the night of the publication of Tristram Shandy in 1759.

This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

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