Garrick Club Breaks 193-Year Tradition, Votes to Admit Women

The Garrick Club, a 193-year-old UK gentlemen's club, has voted to allow women to join its membership ranks, breaking with a long-standing tradition of male-only membership. Nearly 60% of the membership voted in favor of the change, paving the way for women to join the prestigious club.

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Nitish Verma
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Garrick Club Breaks 193-Year Tradition, Votes to Admit Women

Garrick Club Breaks 193-Year Tradition, Votes to Admit Women

In a historic decision, the Garrick Club, a 193-year-old exclusive gentlemen's club in the UK, has voted to allow women to join its membership ranks. The vote, held on Tuesday, saw nearly 60% of the membership voting in favor of the change, breaking with a long-standing tradition of male-only membership.

Why this matters: This decision marks a significant shift towards greater equality and inclusivity in traditional institutions, and its ripple effect could influence other gentlemen's clubs to reevaluate their membership policies. As a result, it may lead to a more diverse and representative membership in these historic clubs, ultimately contributing to a more equitable society.

The Garrick Club, established in 1831 and named after actor David Garrick, is known for its prestigious membership list, which includes notable figures such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, and even King Charles III. The decision to admit women members comes after the club faced increasing media scrutiny and threats of resignation from influential members.

While the exact timeline for implementing the change in membership guidelines is unclear, some members have already compiled a list of prominent women they plan to nominate for membership. British actress Juliet Stevenson is among those being considered, with Stevenson expressing interest in becoming a member of the Garrick Club, stating that any club dedicated to the theatre and arts community must be open to all.

Theatre director Jude Kelly welcomed the decision, saying: "I'm glad that men who were previously comfortable with the club being men-only have thought again and decided that they are now uncomfortable with that arrangement. This is a place that sustained male power." Jemima Olchawski, CEO of the Fawcett Society, added: "This decision shouldn't be controversial, it's just common sense. There was no good reason to refuse women membership and we're delighted that Garrick members agree."

The Garrick Club's decision has sparked discussions among other London gentlemen's clubs, with some considering admitting remaining women members. Club secretaries at institutions such as the Travellers Club, the Savile Club, and White's are consulting lawyers to explore their options. These clubs are among the few remaining in London that still do not admit female members.

The Garrick Club's vote marks a significant shift in the traditional gentlemen's club culture, which has long been criticized for its exclusivity. As the first woman set to join the club, Dame Judi Dench, 89, is poised to become a trailblazer. Her inclusion, along with the potential membership of other prominent women, signals a step towards greater equality and inclusivity in these historic institutions.

Key Takeaways

  • The Garrick Club, a 193-year-old UK gentlemen's club, has voted to allow women to join.
  • Nearly 60% of members voted in favor of the change, breaking with a long-standing tradition.
  • The decision marks a shift towards greater equality and inclusivity in traditional institutions.
  • Other London gentlemen's clubs are now considering admitting women members.
  • Dame Judi Dench is poised to become the first woman to join the Garrick Club.