The International Lyceum Club of Stockholm celebrates its centenary this year. The inaugural meeting was held on 8th April 1911 on the initiative of our Crown Princess Margareta who found on her arrival in Sweden that there were no ladies’ clubs comparable to those in England, such as the London club founded by Constance Smedley in 1903, where ladies could hear interesting talks in congenial surroundings. The Princess was present at the first meeting on 6 December 1911, attended by 80 members averaging 30 years of age. Originally named “The Stockholm Ladies’ Club”, it was renamed the Lyceum Club in 1912, and joined the International Association of Lyceum Clubs thanks to the Princess’s contacts abroad. She urged the Club to acquire its own clubhouse, but this was not possible, and over the years different apartments mid-town were rented until 1990 when the Club began to hire a school hall for meetings. For these apartments the Club acquired furniture and also a very special painting executed by the Princess who was a talented artist. It was donated to the National Museum of Art in Stockholm in 1981. Sadly the Princess died in 1920, only 38 years of age.
1929 was a dramatic year for the Club as interest waned in the difficult economic climate and its survival was in doubt. At an extraordinary meeting, after fierce discussion a new board was elected to keep the Club alive. Membership increased to 130 and happy years ensued.
The Club now holds meetings twice a month and arranges language classes in English and French, theatre evenings and bridge games. Over the last 100 years many famous people have performed for us: Swedish Nobel laureates, artists, authors, politicians and musicians. In 1943 a well known professor made a speech about operatic singer Jenny Lind, world famous in the 1800s. He deplored the fact that her memory had not been kept alive. Spontaneously the Club decided to found the Jenny Lind Association which is still active and every year gives a scholarship to a promising Swedish female singer.
In 1961 the Club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a trip to Finland, followed by others to the Netherlands, Austria, Egypt, Turkey, Italy, Portugal, Ceylon, Poland, Sicily and Russia. It hosted the International Congress in 1959 and BCI meetings in 1984 and 2003. Mrs. Gisela Sterzel was Swedish President for 26 years and International President from 1969 to 1975.
The Club has been restrictive in nominating honorary members: the founder, Crown Princess Margareta, was first, followed by several of her relatives: Queen Ingrid of Denmark, Princess Sibylla, Princess Ingeborg and our present Queen Silvia. The famous female author and Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlöf also became an honorary member. Since inauguration we have had 14 presidents: Mary Bodström the first president for 11 years, Inez Appelberg in 1931 for18 years then Gisela Sterzel for 26 years. Many of you will remember Margit von Bahr who was President from 2001 to 2007 and did much to strengthen our international contacts.
And now we are going to celebrate our 100th anniversary! On 8 April we shall have a jubilee gathering when a famous author will give a talk on “Hats and Rings – Female Attire” and the ladies will be dressed appropriately. Then from June 7 to 10 the BCI meeting will be held in Stockholm and will conclude with a Jubilee Luncheon in the House of Nobility. A special programme is also planned for 6 December 2011.