The English Goethe Society

The Society was founded in 1886 for the purpose of promoting the study of Goethe’s work and thought. It is the oldest learned society devoted to German studies in the UK, and the third of all Goethe societies. In 1891 the Society’s scope was extended, so that, while always keeping Goethe as its main focus, the attention of its members might also be directed to other fields of German culture.

Many of the most distinguished German scholars of their time have addressed the Society. It has also attracted eminent speakers from outside the profession, including Ernst Cassirer (1935), Dorothy Sayers (1945), Thomas Mann (1950), and Alfred Brendel (2021).

The Society meets five or six times a year in London and other parts of the UK. It welcomes as members all of those who support its aims, academics and non-academics alike. Its membership is drawn from all parts of the UK and Ireland; it also has members in Germany, France, the USA, and Australia. As part of their entitlement members receive the thrice-yearly Publications of the English Goethe Society (PEGS), which publishes the lectures and prize-winning essays that are first presented to its members as well as unsolicited papers and conference proceedings on subjects of interest to members.

Society Meetings

The Society’s London meetings are usually held in the premises of the Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR) in the University of London's Senate House. Senate House is between Russell Square and Malet Street in London's Bloomsbury.

Meetings outside of London generally take the form of workshop events, either stand-alone or as part of larger conferences hosted by academic institutions or scholarly associations.


President: Professor T. J. Reed, M.A., F.B.A

Vice-President: Professor Martin Swales, M.A., Ph.D, F.B.A

Hon. Secretaries:

            Professor Astrid Köhler, Dr.Phil.

            Dr Charlotte Lee, M.A., Ph.D.

            Professor Charlie Louth, B.A., Ph.D.

Hon. Treasurer: Professor W. Daniel Wilson, M.A., Ph.D., F.R.S.A.

Membership Secretary: Dr Ellen Pilsworth, Ph.D.

Council for 2023

The President, Vice-President, Hon. Secretaries, Treasurer and Membership Secretary, ex officio.

Professor Jeremy Adler, King’s College, London

Professor Matthew Bell, King’s College London

Professor Elizabeth Boa, F.B.A., University of Nottingham

Professor Nicholas Boyle, F.B.A., University of Cambridge

Dr Steffan Davies, University of Bristol

Dr Elystan Griffith, University of Birmingham

Dr Tobias Heinrich, University of Kent

Dr Kevin Hilliard, University of Oxford

Professor Angus Nicholls, Queen Mary University of London

Professor Claudia Nitschke, University of Durham

Dr Joanna Raisbeck, University of Oxford

Professor Nicholas Saul, University of Durham

Dr Ernest Schonfield, University of Glasgow