Penny Lectures: a 2024 renaissance

Penny Lectures have been a firm fixture in Morley’s cultural offer since 1882…142 years later,  they’re enjoying something of a renaissance. 

History of Penny Lectures 

Penny Lectures were the brainchild of Morley College London founder Emma Cons, who wanted to encourage new thinking and ideas and provided illustrated lectures at affordable prices. 

Held at the Old Vic Theatre in Waterloo, these lectures covered fascinating topics, from the mysteries of the sea to the wonders of microscopic life, all for the price of a penny. 

Education for the community 

In line with Emma Cons’ commitment to making education accessible to all, these talks transformed into evening sessions and ultimately paved the way for the founding of Morley Memorial College for both men and women in the workforce. 

In 2024, the Penny Lectures go from strength to strength, offering a unique opportunity for a new generation of learners to indulge in exploration and discovery. 

What’s even more remarkable is that the entry fee for these revived lectures remains unchanged, adhering to the original penny price tag, honouring Cons’ legacy of making education accessible to all. 

Previous Penny Lectures  

Penny Lecture: Neville Brody – Graphic Design Pioneer 

In this talk, Neville Brody from Brody Associates introduced his subject – graphic design, as well as enlighten the audience with stories and his knowledge of the industry from working with big brands such as Coca-Cola, BBC, Sony Music, Channel 4, Christian Dior, Mayo Clinic, The Times, Samsung and Shiseido. 

Penny Lecture: Neville Brody

Penny Lecture: Gemstones have an ‘ology too: the Science Behind the Sparkle 

In this talk, Beth West from Gemmological Certification Services (GCS), the UK’s leading gemmological laboratory introduced her subject – gemmology, as well as captivating the audience with the many stories a gemstone can tell us; about the universe, our planet and, often, the nature of humanity itself.   

We’re looking forward to welcoming Beth back in 2024 – keep an eye on our Penny Lectures page for more. 

Penny Lecture: in conversation with James Mac MUA 

Fresh from the success of his debut exhibition MakeupXArt at Morley Gallery in January 2024, James Mac spoke about his career as a makeup artist as well as giving an insight into his own story, as a queer, Irish person living with Tourette’s Syndrome. 

Upcoming Penny Lectures 

The Maltreatment of the child Jane in Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Modern Standards of Child Safeguarding 

This talk explores parities between the maltreatment of the child Jane with modern definitions of child abuse. References for this analysis are drawn from the UK Government’s ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges’ (2023). 

Date: 28 March 2024 

Powerful stories, improves the health of elders 

Eli Anderson dives into the feature of our Western society, that older people, are disproportionately affected by mental health, isolation, ill health, lack of support, and access to resources that may improve their lives. 

Date: 9 May 2024 

Holst at 150: re-assessing his achievement 

Gustav Holst’s best friend and fellow composer Ralph Vaughan Williams described him as “a great composer, a great teacher, and a great friend”. This shone through Holst’s time as Director of Music at Morley from 1907-1924. 

This talk will reassess Holst’s achievement throughout his career, and his lasting legacy. 

Date: 15 May 2024 

Have someone in mind for a Penny Lecture? 

For those interested in contributing please email

Find the out more about Penny Lectures here. 

Stay tuned for updates and mark your calendars for upcoming lectures!