World Poetry Day in the Library

UNESCO declared in 1999 that the 21st March would be made World Poetry Day, to promote the writing, reading, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world. In the UK we were already celebrating National Poetry Day in the first week of October, but we were very happy to take another one!

So, to celebrate the occasion, we would like to share some poems we particularly like.

Of course they’re all about books. What else would you expect?

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was regarded as an eccentric during her lifetime for only wearing white and preferring not to leave her bedroom. Of course, nobody really needs to leave their bedroom, if that’s where all their books are, and it certainly didn’t stop her from becoming one of the USA’s most important poets. You can find her work on the 4th Floor of the library at 811.39-DIC, or in a number of e-book editions through the Enterprise catalogue.

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas, who described himself as a ‘roistering, drunken and doomed poet’, also liked to crack open a book. He is perhaps best known for his play Under Milk Wood and his poem ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’. If you’d like to read them, you can find his work at 821.912-THO, on the 4th Floor.

Coincidentally, while Dickinson did her best work during her years of seclusion, Thomas was once locked in a room by a friend until he finished the stage adaptation of Under Milk Wood. Is this an essay-writing tip that Study Advice would recommend? Absolutely not. But at least we can all appreciate the value of peace and quiet and study space and teetering towers of books without necessarily locking ourselves in there.

In the Eden I’d like to build
There’s a wealth of library nooks;
There are thousands of shelves and all of them filled
With an orderly display of books.
And lest the dear number appall
Even one most bookishly willed,
There’s wideness of leisure to read them all
In the Eden I’d like to build.


Aaah, that’s the dream.

Do you have a favourite poem you’d like to share?

Celebrating Movember with the Great Moustaches of Literature

Every November, thousands of men grow moustaches for charity. The annual event Movember aims to ‘change the face of men’s health’ by raising awareness and funds, particularly in the three key areas of prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health, including suicide prevention. Through November we’ve been been posting on social media to provide a round up of some of the best moustaches of literature and scholarship! Which of these writers would you award the Mo Throne?

The enormous beard and moustache combination has been a popular look going back centuries. Symbolic of age and wisdom, it’s been sported by figures as illustrious as Tolstoy and Tagore, Verne and Darwin, Gandalf and Dumbledore.

Two sepia-toned portraits of men: on the left, wearing a black suit and bow-tie and with a short spade-shaped beard, Jules Verne. On the right, gazing fiercely into the distance to the left, Lev Tolstoy, whose long straggling beard and moustache occupy most of the portrait and extend out of frame below.

But then, could a beard and a moustache be considered cheating? It isn’t Novembeard. Can the beard be permitted to overshadow the moustache in its month of triumph? Twain wrote, in an essay called ‘The lowest animal’ or sometimes ‘Man’s place in the animal world’: “What is his beard for? It performs no useful function; it is a nuisance and a discomfort; all nations hate it; all nations persecute it with the razor. And because it is a nuisance and a discomfort, Nature never allows the supply of it to fall short, in any man’s case, between puberty and the grave. You never see a man bald-headed on his chin.”

The moustache without beard, fortunately, is also a popular look among the literary greats! The beard without moustache is… let’s say it’s a more risky fashion choice. At the other end of the scale, many authors have favoured the perhaps more modern approach of the understated, yet often distinguished, chevron or pencil moustache. In George Orwell’s six rules for writing, listed in his 1946 essay ‘Politics and the English Language’, he advises would-be authors to “Never use a long word where a short one will do”, and he evidently applied the same rule to his upper lip. Shakespeare in his sole inarguable portrait in the First Folio wears a thin pencil moustache, and can you have a better examplar than Shakespeare?

On the left, Ralph Ellison, a black man seated in front of a row of bookshelves. He wears a suit and tie and has a thin pencil moustache with a pronounced gap under the nose. On the right, George Orwell, a white man in a coat and jumper, seated in front of a BBC microphone; he has a thin moustache running right along his upper lip.

As Poirot, possessor of possibly the most famous moustache in literature and certainly the one most cherished by its host, advises his good friend Hastings in ‘Peril at End House’, “If you must have a moustache, let it be a real moustache – a thing of beauty such as mine.” Poirot’s definition of a ‘real moustache’ is as idiosyncratic as he is himself, of course, but many writers would agree with him.

On the left, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, wearing a dark suit and a large moustache with upturned corners. On the right, Mark Twain, wearing a white suit and a bushy white horseshoe moustache.

Which writer would you award the ‘Best Moustache Ever’ prize to? Let us know via Twitter or Instagram!

You can find out more about Movember at their website, and you can find information on the library and university’s mental health resources in this blog post:

Introducing the University’s Wellbeing book collection

Opening hours back to 24/6+  

Welcome back to all of our new and continuing students! It’s a fresh new academic year, and we are returning to our regularly-scheduled 24/6+ opening hours.

Monday 26 September – Friday 9 December       
Mon – Fri* 24 hours
Sat Open until 21:00
Sun Open from 08:30
*Friday 9 December: Library open until midnight.


The Library Café generally closes at 18:00 Monday – Thursday and at 16:00 Friday – Sunday; for the most up-to-date opening hours, please see their webpage. IT Service Desk hours can be found on the DTS website.