Michael WheelerApr 14, 2021
More Than Just Another London Club
Yale University Press 2020
When it was founded in 1824, the Athenæum broke the mold. Unlike in other preeminent clubs, its members were chosen on the basis of their achievements rather than on their background or political affiliation. Public rather than private life dominated the agenda.
The club, with its tradition of hospitality to conflicting views, has attracted leading scientists, writers, artists, and intellectuals throughout its history, including Charles Darwin and Matthew Arnold, Edward Burne-Jones and Yehudi Menuhin, Winston Churchill, Lord Halifax and Kim Philby among others.
Professor Michael Wheeler’s book: The Athenaeum: More Than Just Another London Club (Yale University Press, 2020), this book is not presented in the traditional, insular style of club histories, but brings attention to the influence of Athenians on the scientific, creative, and official life of the nation.
From the unwitting recruitment of a Cold War spy to the welcome admittance of women, this lively and original account explores the corridors and characters of the club; its wider political, intellectual, and cultural influence; and its recent reinvention.
Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles.