The Idler Philosophy Retreat at Gladstone’s Library

Thursday 5th July to Sunday 8th July

Unit price



A four day retreat at the residential Gladstone’s Library with Tom Hodgkinson and Dr Mark Vernon

Join us for some productive idling as we take time out to study the philosophers of ancient Athens, discuss their enduring influence and think about how they can help us to live well in today’s world.

Location: we’ll be staying at Gladstone’s Library in North Wales, Britain’s finest residential library and viral sensation on Buzzfeed. Founded by William Gladstone to house his huge collection of theological works, it is the perfect place for philosophical reflection and study, surrounded by lush Welsh countryside. The library is located just a few miles from Chester. Our price includes all meals, acccommodation and classes.

About the tutors

Tom Hodgkinson is editor of the Idler, which he founded in 1993, and author of the best-selling manuals, How to be Idle and How to be Free. Other books include a book on smallholding called Brave Old World, a book on parenting, the Ukulele Handbook and, most recently, a manual for creative entrepreneurs, Business for Bohemians.

Dr Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist with a private practice in London, as well as working at the Maudsley Hospital. He is also a writer, broadcaster and teacher, and has been teaching philosophy at the Idler Academy for many years, both live and online. He has a PhD in philosophy, and degrees in theology and physics. His most recent books include – The Idler Guide To Ancient Philosophy (Idler Books), Love: All That Matters (Hodder) and Jung: How To Believe (Guardian Shorts).


Thursday 5th July

2-4pm – Check in and afternoon tea
6pm – The Birth of Philosophy with Tom Hodgkinson. How Socrates was inspired by a temple priestess to invent a new science of how to live. We will look at Shelley’s translation of Plato’s Symposium.
7.15pm – Dinner
8.30pm – Introductions. We discuss who we all are and the purpose of the retreat.

Friday 6th July

9.30am – Two and a Half Thousand Years of Idleness with Tom Hodgkinson. Tom takes us on a whirlwind tour of the great idlers from Lao Tzu to Christ to Aquinas to Oscar Wilde to John Lennon.
11am – Coffee
11.30am – The History of Gladstone’s Library with warden Peter Francis. Tom interviews Peter on William Gladstone’s vision of a place for retreat and his idea of liberal values.
1pm – Lunch
2pm – Rest and study break
4pm – From Homer to Pythagoras with Mark Vernon. Mark takes a tea time class on the pre-Socratic philosophers including Parmenides, Pythagoras and Heraclitus.
7pm – Dinner
8pm – Plato and Aristotle: An Introduction to Two Very Different Approaches to Life with Mark Vernon and Tom Hodgkinson

Saturday 7th July

10am – Epicureans vs Stoics with Mark Vernon and Tom Hodgkinson We examine the two must enduring schools of ancient Athens, and invite you to consider which one you feel the closest affinity towards.
11.15am – Coffee break
11.45am – Punk Rock in Athens: Tom Hodgkinson on the Cynics
1pm – Lunch
2-4pm – Free time
4pm – Philosophy walk on the Sceptics. Learn how the Indian gymnosophists influenced their thought.
7pm – To local hostelry Glynne Arms for drinks and feast

Sunday 8th July

10am – Mark Vernon on Neo Platonism and the Birth of Christianity
11.15am – Coffee
11.30am – Mark Vernon on the influence of ancient philosophy on the modern world
1pm – Lunch
2pm – Conclusions and goodbyes
3pm – Ends

Terms and Conditions
If a booking is cancelled within 7 days of the Retreat, 100% charges will apply.  If a booking is cancelled between 8-28 days prior, 75% charges will apply.  If a booking is cancelled 29 days to 91 days in advance, 50% charges will apply. Further than 91 days prior, no charges will apply. Please ensure that you have insurance to cover a cancellation or a curtailed stay.



4pm on Thursday 5 July to 3pm on Sunday 8 July


Gladstone Library, Church Lane, Hawarden, Flintshire CH5 3DF


£495, including accommodation, all meals and classes

To Book

Add to basket or call 0203 176 7907


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