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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      11:00 am, 31 Jan 2017 - 16 Apr 2017
      This exhibition has now finished. We apologise for any inconvenience.

      3 May 2017


      Spoken word & Live literature
      8:00 pm, 3 May 2017
      In this poetry talk and reading, five Cypriot poets explore the power of words in bridging the divides of Cyprus

      9 May 2017

      Audience at teachers evening event


      5:00 pm, 9 May 2017
      An evening of poetic discovery for teachers

      11 May 2017


      7:30 pm, 11 May 2017
      Celebrate the enduring power of medieval poetry at this exhibition opening

      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


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

      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