Beating Hitler with Humour

Following an interview with Clare George, Project Archivist at Senate House Library, for BBC Radio 4’s progamme Beating Hitler With Humour (broadcast Sat 31 Aug 2019), about Martin Miller’s extraordinary parody which helped to bring down Hitler, we're sharing the original documents and the audio recordings we have in our archives.

6 Sep 2019
Dr Clare George

Exhibitions and Events

Building Literary History

Seventy years ago, on the 8 June 1949, George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was published here in London. Over the years, the imaginative dystopian world created by Orwell would have a huge influence on our language and become an important part of London’s literary history.

31 May 2019
Rebecca Simpson

A Magical Mystery: The Expert at the Card Table

In our current exhibition, Staging Magic - The Story Behind The Illusion, one of our themes is ‘Masters of Magic and Their Influence.’ Here you can see items relating to some of the great conjurors: John Henry Anderson and Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin, who popularised magic as a theatrical art in the 19th century, female magicians Adelaide Herrmann and Mercedes Talma, and the masters of the American stage such as Howard Thurston and Harry Houdini.

4 Apr 2019
Tansy Barton

Our Oldest and Our Newest: The Vye Collection

The Vye donation is significant for the University of London. It is the first bulk donation of books and the first group of antiquarian books to have entered the University, arriving as early as 1838, only two years after the University’s foundation. As Nathaniel Vye (1791-1840), a medical practitioner in Ilfracombe, Devon, was not a University man, the gift indicates early good will among the wider British public towards the University.

29 Mar 2019
Dr Karen Attar

Magic and Science: Enlightenment or Disillusion?

Successfully performing a magical illusion demands a wide range of knowledge and skill. This includes an understanding of certain scientific principles and embracing the advances technology brings: magic, like science, is always changing but similarly many of its fundamental principles stay the same.

29 Mar 2019
Tansy Barton

SHL Staff Share Their Favourites for World Book Day

For this year's World Book Day, Senate House Library staff share some of their favourites from our collections... 


MichaelSome British Ballads (1919?) by Francis James Child & It A Come (1986) by Michael Smith 

7 Mar 2019
Research Collections

Mary Queen of Scots: Victim or Traitor?

Was Mary, Queen of Scots an innocent victim or a wily traitor and agitator? The dramatic potential of her imprisonment and death under Elizabeth I of England, the subject of the new film Mary Queen of Scots, starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, has long been exploited.

23 Jan 2019
Dr Karen Attar

Staging Magic – The Story Behind The Illusion

Staging Magic – The Story Behind The Illusion covers a long period in the history of magic, from the 16th to the early 20th century, and features some of the most precious and exciting treasures of the collection. Exhibition curator, Tansy Barton, takes a closer look at our exciting new season.
21 Jan 2019
Tansy Barton

“My Usual Self is a Very Unusual Self”: Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey

IMG_0447.PNGShelagh Delaney, born 25 November 1938, brought a new and vibrant voice to the 1950s English stage: female, teenage, working class, and northern. On 27th May 1958 the play A Taste of Honey was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Stratford. Written by the 19-year-old Shelagh Delaney A Taste of Honey would later transfer to the West End and transform into a film which became symbolic of the late 1950s / early1960s ‘kitchen sink drama’. 

25 Nov 2018
Leila Kassir

Ouida: The Dog-Intoxicated Novelist

Ouida_from_Cabinet_Card.jpgOn World Animal Day, it seems appropriate to celebrate perhaps the most devoted literary friend that the animal kingdom could ever have had pressed upon it.

4 Oct 2018
Dr Richard Espley

The Trial of a Trailblazing Woman in Publishing

It is 1877. We are sitting in an open court. On trial is a 29-year old woman. She is charged with having published an ‘obscene libel’ – a re-print of Fruits of Philosophy, a book about contraceptive methods, first published some 40 years earlier. She defends herself in front of an all-male jury.
1 Oct 2018
Mura Ghosh

The revolutionary summer of 1773: London publishes the first African-American poet

In the summer of 1773, 245 years ago, cultural revolution was in the air in London. It had been a year after the landmark Mansfield ruling that would begin to see slavery gradually outlawed in England. At the same time, over in Boston in the US, the American Revolution was gathering pace, with the Boston Tea Party only a few months away. With war bubbling in the background, relations between London and Boston were tense but one young girl would rise above it.    

21 Aug 2018
Rebecca Simpson

Una Marson: Writer, Activist & the first Black woman broadcaster at the BBC

Whilst Una Marson lived primarily in Jamaica she takes her place in a display of London women for the two relatively short, but densely active, periods of her life that she spent in the city: 1932-1936 and 1938-1946. Using images of Una Marson found within the Senate House Library modern collections periodicals, this blog seeks to highlight some moments of her London life.
6 Aug 2018
Leila Kassir

British Women’s Writing: Elizabeth Maslen Donation

Elizabeth Maslen, who has a long career within English literature academia, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies (School of Advanced Studies) and has written widely on women’s writing.

3 Aug 2018
Leila Kassir

#OnThisDay 51 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality

Today, 27 July 2018, marks 51 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality through The Sexual Offences Act 1967. The partial decriminalisation in 1967 was influenced by the conclusions of the Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, published 10 years earlier in 1957.

27 Jul 2018
Scott Miles

Summer membership offer

Take advantage of our Summer Membership offer throughout July-August for the discount price of £30....
9 Jul 2018

Exhibitions and Events

The Children’s Book that Shaped the Victorian World

On the 200th anniversary of the publication of The Fairchild Family by Mary Martha Sherwood (1775-1851), we take a look at the prolific, didactic, evangelical author, whose writings dominated education for half a century and whose first generation of readers grew up to shape the Victorian world.

13 Apr 2018
Dr Karen Attar

How to become a book collector by Anthony Davis Prize winner Astrid Khoo

I never set out to become a book collector. As a teenager, stories fed my escapist fantasies; back in Melbourne I must have read a good half of the school library. In short I don’t think I ever developed an ‘interest’ for books – as that sounds awfully cold and detached – but rather I fell in love with reading during my formative years, and the natural consequence of that was becoming a book collector. 

20 Mar 2018
Astrid Khoo

Exhibitions and Events

New Perspectives on the Spanish Civil War

This guest blog by Deborah Madden of the University of Sheffield, provides a round-up of a conference and accompanying exhibition commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.

7 Sep 2016
Deborah Madden

Much ado about someone

Annalisa Ricciardi discusses her experience as the ‘Shakespeare Project’ cataloguer at Senate House Library.

26 Jul 2016
Dr Annalisa Ricciardi

Forget the "A" Team, meet the "Bee" Team

To Bee Theatre Company are group of students from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama who are working with Senate House Library for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. In this guest blog they tell us more about their story and the workshops they will be running as part of the Shakespeare: Metamorphosis season.

8 Jun 2016
To Bee Theatre Company