Garrick Club

The Garrick Club is a gentlemen's club in London. Founded in 1831, it moved to its present home at 13 and 15 Garrick Street in 1864, close to the theatre and legal districts. Membership to the club is by invitation to those applicants considered qualified. The original assurance of the committee was “that it would be better that ten unobjectionable men should be excluded than one terrible bore should be admitted.” The exclusive nature of the club was made clear when reporter Jeremy Paxman applied to join but was blackballed with one member stating that, "he was full of himself", although he was later admitted. Past members include Charles Dickens, J. M. Barrie, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, Kingsley Amis, Edward Elgar and A. A. Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh.

The original plans state that The Garrick Club is instituted for the general patronage of drama; for the purpose of combining the use of a Club, on economic principles, with the advantages of a literary society; for bringing together supporters of drama; and for the formation of a theatrical library, with works on costume. It also has a significant art collection and various theatrical artifacts. The main staircase is dominated by a portrait of the actor David Garrick in costume as royalty. The Literary Society meets at the club once a month. The club is also favoured by members of the legal profession.

The Garrick does not admit women as members, unlike its New York counterpart, The Players in Gramercy Park, which began to do so in 1989. The Players was largely modeled upon the Garrick when American actor Edwin Booth founded it in 1888, and since these two clubs are similar in their purpose, they exchange temporary membership privileges for visitors. This led to a confrontation when one of New York's leading producers (female) had a show on in London, tried to have lunch at the Garrick, and couldn't get in. In exasperation, upon return to New York, she resigned her membership.

On 30 April 2007 Fleur Deeson and Sophie Morris made Garrick Club history by becoming the first woman to be admitted to a club talk. The talk, held in the Garrick library, was an account of the history and ecology of Tanzania's Kilimanjaro, the world's highest freestanding mountain at 5895m, and was given by Marcus Risdell, mountaineer and Garrick Club curator.


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