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The Monadnock Summer Lyceum has a long history of supporting free speech and open debate. Its forerunner, the Peterborough Lyceum, was founded in 1829 by the Reverend Abiel Abbot. Despite his traditional Andover/Harvard education, Abiel Abbot refused to condemn unorthodox opinion and preached a message of tolerance. For this he was accused of heresy by Lyman Beecher and nine other New England clergy and stripped of his Coventry, CT ministry. When the Unitarians of Peterborough boldly called Abbot to lead the congregation in their newly built, Bullfinch-style church, Abiel quickly moved to found the Lyceum, a forum for diverse opinion and, five years later, the first free public library in the English-speaking world.

Peterborough renewed its commitment to free speech in 1970, when a committee at the Unitarian Universalist Church resurrected the forum as the Monadnock Summer Lyceum, held in the same original historic structure. These founders of the modern Lyceum were Ernestine Blodgett, Elsworth Bunce, Thomas Drew, Henry Franklin, Edward Hamblin, Kenneth Jewett, Samuel Johnson, Wallace Mors, Fanny Raymond, Martha Scott, Rev. David Van Strien, Lloyd Young, and Ivan Wilson. The Monadnock Summer Lyceum is known as "a feast for the thoughtful" and features prominent speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines who discuss topics of importance to our time. 



Audio CD and audio cassette copies of the presentations by speakers of previous seasons are available at the same Peterborough Town Library established by Abiel Abbot in 1833.

The Monadnock Summer Lyceum is a not-for-profit organization, supported by individual tax-deductible contributions.

The Church sanctuary and Parish Hall reception area are handicapped accessible.


New Hampshire Public Radio

Lectures are recorded for NH Public Radio before a live public audience every summer Sunday morning, check schedule for times. Members of the public are invited to attend. The venue is fully handicapped accessible, including devices for the hearing impaired. Audience members are encouraged to arrive a few minutes early, before recording begins. Recorded presentations are followed by an open question and answer session, which may extend beyond the recorded interaction. After the presentation audience members are invited to meet speakers personally at a reception in the parish hall.

The Monadnock Summer Lyceum Series is broadcast the following Sunday at  10pm on New Hampshire Public Radio on the following stations: WEVO 89.1 Concord; WEVO 90.3 Nashua; WEVO; WEVN 90.7 Keene; WEVO 91.3, Littleton; WEVH 91.3 Hanover; WEVJ 99.5 Jackson; WEVO 104.3, Dover; WEVC 107.1 Berlin. 
Please see the NHPR webpage for the broadcast schedule.



Little River Bed and Breakfast

Little River Bed and Breakfast in Peterborough, is offering Lyceum guests a special rate for Sunday and Monday nights only during the Lyceum season.

Please call them at (603) 924-3280 or email at Little River Bed and Breakfast for more information

Friends of the Lyceum


Arts Alive - Advancing Arts and Culture in the Monadnock Region

Monadnock Center for History & Culture

We celebrate the past through exhibits and programs that explore our region’s rich history.

Programming that enriches our region’s cultural life enhances the present.

Through forums and lectures we foster thoughtful discussion and connection in the region.

The Toadstool Bookships
Independent booksellers with enchanting selections of wonderful books


Peterborough Farmers' Market

serves the community with fresh, local produce, locally prepared ready to eat foods and handmade crafts.



Aesops Tables

Cafe and Catering

Located in the heart of downtown Peterborough, NH inside the Toadstool Bookshop.


NHPR - New Hampshire Public Radio

Summerhill Assisted Living

Assisted living services and accommodations

Mariposa Museum and World Culture Center

The Mariposa is a 'hands-on' museum of artifacts from around the world


Roy's Market

Fine food and great service in downtown Peterborough.