The National Poetry Library

Visit The National Poetry Library at Royal Festival Hall and explore the most comprehensive collection of poetry in Britain. The library has been at the heart of the nation’s poetry community since it was founded by the Arts Council in 1953 and opened by poets T.S. Eliot and Herbert Read.

Join now -

It’s free to join and all you need to bring with you is:

  • a photo ID such as a passport or driving licence
  • a bill from the last 3 months with your name and address on it (a bank statement or a utility bill for example)

About the collection

Spanning the world of poetry since 1912, the library has over 200,000 items and is growing all the time. We are the first port of call for everyone with a love of modern poetry in the UK.

We have extensive resources for poets, academics, schools and families as well as a host of engaging events and exhibitions. The library is free to use, open to all and offers an unrivalled journey into poetry across all its forms.

We offer a free postal service of CDs and cassettes to people with sight problems throughout the UK as well as a selection of popular modern poets and anthologies in Braille. Our eloan collection makes ebooks and audio available to all members from the comfort of their own home.


      Opening times

      The National Poetry Library is open Tuesday - Sunday, 11am - 8pm and closed to the public on Mondays

      Find us

      The National Poetry Library, Level 5, Blue Side, Royal Festival Hall 
      Tel: 020 7921 0664 or 020 7921 0943
      Email us

      The National Poetry Library Website

      The National Poetry Library Twitter

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      7 Jun 2017


      8:00 pm, 7 Jun 2017
      Choose your own adventure for Britain as comics meet poetry in this workshop

      12 Jun 2017

      Leonard Cohen at the Arena in Geneva


      6:30 pm, 12 Jun 2017
      Are songwriters the true poets of our age?

      3 Jul 2017

      Taken at the First International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books in Islington Town Hall (1-3 April 1982)


      2:00 pm, 3 Jul 2017
      Join us for a special event on race and poetry at The National Poetry Library

      5 Jul 2017

      Painting - Celebrating Shearsman Books


      8:00 pm, 5 Jul 2017
      Hear authors represented by Shearsman Books read and discuss their work

      16 Jul 2017

      11:00 am, 16 Jul 2017
      Come along to this special live poetry reading at the newly designed Room for Children

      2 Aug 2017

      Satellite Image of Hurricane


      8:00 pm, 2 Aug 2017
      Experience a collaboratively written poetic work created in response to the 2016 EU referendum

      The National Poetry Library can be reached step-free by taking the JCB Glass Lift, located on Blue Side of Royal Festival Hall, to Level 5.

      See our access map

      The library provides a free postal service of poetry on cassette and CD to people with sight problems throughout the UK.

      To join this service, please fill out a membership form

      The National Poetry Library also has a selection of popular modern poets and anthologies in Braille.

      Search the catalogue

      get in touch

      Tel: 020 7921 0664 or 020 7921 0943

      poetry stories

      Carolyn Forché explores how poets have been shaped by extreme events

      events & exhibitions

      more about the library