Clubs and Assembly Rooms in London

All Accounts of Gallantry, Pleasure and Entertainment, shall be under the Article of White’s Chocolate-house ; Poetry, under that of Will’s Coffee-house ; Learning, under the Title of Graecian; Foreign and Domestick News, you will have from St. James’s Coffee-house ; and what else I have to offer on any other Subject, shall be dated from my own Apartment.

Richard Steele, The Tatler, n°1, Tuesday, April 12, 1709.

In this account of the development of clubs and coffee-houses, Steele’s text shows the contrast between:

  • the coffee-houses frequented by the fashionable society in St James’s, where the topics of discussion were “pleasure” or “news” (he was himself a member of White’s club, as the text suggests - he has another essay on coffee-houses),
  • and on the other hand the literary coffee-houses close to theatreland and the Inns of Court.

Steele also frequented literary taverns.

There were scientific societies, such as the Royal Society founded in the 1660s, and later the Royal Institution founded in 1799.