Q. What connects Steven Berkoff, Jimmy Carr and David Bowie?

A. They’ve all taken courses at the City Literary Institute
– known to us all, affectionately as City Lit – now in its 100th year.

With over 5000 courses run every year in the centre of London, this is the place to go for learning whether
you would like to improve your business skills or fuel a passion for languages. There is a course for you, where you will fit in and enjoy learning in likeminded company.

Here’s a brief history of some of its landmarks:


The City Literary Institute opens in Fetter Lane in the City of London with 180 students.

Lipreading classes were held for soldiers returning from World War One with acquired hearing loss. The City Lit continue to provide free support for lipreading and managing hearing loss for the Armed Forces and ex-Forces personnel. Today Grayson Perry CBE RA is patron of the #HearMyLips campaign.


Academics and writers who taught and gave special lectures include Dame Edith Sitwell, T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton, C. Day Lewis, Dorothy Sayers and Dylan T Thomas.


City Lit moved to its first purpose built home in Stukeley Street, off Drury Lane. The new building was opened by the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield.


During the Blitz on London, City Lit never closed its doors. Classes were held in air raid shelters, including nearby Aldwych and Covent Garden Tube Stations.

One intrepid tutor wheeled a piano into the Underground for music recitals.


City Lit welcomes 20,000 students in a year for the first time.


City Lit moved to their current home in Keeley Street.

When you join the City Lit you will be in excellent company; a young David Jones took acting classes at the City Lit in the 1960s, although you will probably know him better as Musical Icon David Bowie.

Malorie Blackman OBE took ‘Writing for Children’ in the late 1980s. Malorie who is a City Lit Fellow has written more than 50 books in young adult fiction and was named as Children’s Laureate in 2013. She is currently a writer for the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Anna Burns was a student in the 1990s and won the Man Booker Prize 2018 for her novel Milkman.

Following a Creative Writing course Andrea Levy took the life changing decision to switch careers and become a full time writer. Andrea is a previous winner of both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread Book of the Year and is now a City Lit Fellow.

City Lit, Keeley Street