News and Events

Chekhov’s Plays and Stories
Tutor: Karen Hewitt
Starting in January, Karen is running a Literature Zoom course on Chekhov: Plays and Stories. This course was planned as part of the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) programme for Hilary (Spring) Term 2021. Having now moved it to Zoom, she is running it independently.
Class begins on Thursday, 7th January at 7.30. on Zoom

The tutor will send a link on the day. You do NOT need to download Zoom yourself if you don’t wish to do so.

In this course we will begin by discussing Chekhov's play, Uncle Vanya. The following weeks, we will read his wonderful novellas and short stories, including  ‘The Steppe’, 'Lady with a little Dog' and ‘The Bishop’. Chekhov is arguably the world's greatest short story writer, but his stories are not as well- known as they should be. He writes about professionals and landowners, peasants and labourers, monks and criminals, lovers and clowns. For the last three weeks, the class will choose whether to read more stories (including some of the darker ones,) or the play, Three Sisters.
Chekhov’s attitude is both complex and humane; through discussing a wide range of the work of this doctor-turned-writer we will learn to understand and enjoy his subtlety, humour and compassion.

Cost £120

Send us an email if you'd like more information, or if you would like to register for this course.



COVID-19 and health risks

UPDATE - August 2020
We are guided by Government advice on how to safely hold indoor meetings and talks. Key to these guidelines is "social distancing" and good hygiene.

Our gatherings are by their nature "social" events, and at present we feel that many people would not enjoy the full experience of our meetings with the recommended controls and precautions in place. And we know also that some of you are not yet ready to risk mixing with other people if it isn't strictly necessary.

Therefore, we are continuing to monitor the situation, and for now we will NOT be holding our regular meetings. 
We will post further news and any changes on this website. In the meantime, please keep in touch and email your own thoughts and ideas for the future.

The group usually meets once a month on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 2:00 pm. Meetings are conducted in English, and are held at the Downley Community Centre, School Close, High Wycombe, HP13 5TR.  

For more information, and how to find us, see the Maps page.

Review some of our previous presentations

16th January 2020 - My Cossack Family and other Remarkable People

Caroline Walton talks about her new book, which describes her personal experiences, the people she has met and the Ukrainian-Russian family she married into. She has discovered in them a spiritual strength that has enabled survival of famine, war and nuclear disaster. The talk will include discussion.

Caroline Walton is the author of several books on Russia and the former USSR, including The Besieged (about the siege of Leningrad). A Russian to English literary translator and editor, she helps Russian-language authors achieve publication in English (see Her new book My Cossack Family - And Other Remarkable People in Russia and Ukraine has recently been published and will be available to look at in the meeting. 

2:00 pm, Thursday. 16th January 2020

Oak Room, Downley Community Centre. (Map, and how to find us)

20th February 2020 - The story behind Beef Stroganov

The Stroganov family were wealthy and important traders throughout the history of modern Russia. They were instrumental in opening up the rich and valuable land of Siberia for the Tsars. This is the story of their own growth and achievements - with a look at some larger than life characters, and their whims and fancies.

An illustrated talk by Sandra Hurst.
2:00 pm, Thursday 20th February
Oak Room, Downley Community Centr
e. (Map, and how to find us)

19th March 2020 - No meeting 

We regret that we weren't able to bring you the presentation that was originally planned for March. 
It will be rescheduled later in the year.

to be rescheduled  April - A curiosity called Belarus?

Belarus is a little understood Slavic state, at times overshadowed by its much larger neighbour Russia, but with a discrete history and culture of its own.  It has been described by a US president as "the last dictatorship in Europe".  

Matthew Cawthorne has travelled all over Belarus and will give a personal account of this curious and little understood country.  

An illustrated talk by Matthew Cawthorne

to be rescheduled  May - Personal experiences of Ukraine and the Soviet Union

This illustrated talk will take a lighthearted but factual look at life in the Soviet Union, in Ukraine and elsewhere, exploring some of the peculiarities and occasional craziness of Soviet life.

The speaker, who has lived, worked and travelled across Ukraine for long periods during the last few years, will also talk about his own experiences in modern-day Ukraine  -  his travels, the people he has met, and what life is really like now in one of Europe's poorest countries.

An illustrated talk by Alan Taylor

2:00 pm, Thursday. 21st May 2020  to be rescheduled  
Oak Room, Downley Community Centre. (Map, and how to find us)


Pretenders to the Russian throne
Between the 17th and early 20th centuries about 100 pretenders to the throne ‘samozvantsy’  appeared from time to time in Russia claiming to be tsars. The most famous was the False Dimitri in the time of troubles (smuta) but there were others as well. Ruth will tell us about some of them and the phenomenon of ‘pretenders’.

An illustrated talk by Dr Ruth Sobel

Oak Room, Downley Community Centre. (Map, and how to find us)

Open to everyone

Anyone may join in. The "Club" is an open group and all are welcome. To keep things simple, there is no membership fee, and no other formalities, other than a small entrance fee to cover costs. However, you may be included on our email distribution list if you care to provide an email address.
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Future meetings:  We would like to hear your thoughts and ideas for future activities. Tell us what you like, and don't like, and perhaps offer your experiences or expertise. Your input is an important part of our work to draw up a programme for the year ahead.