Celebrating Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte was born on 21 April 1816. The eldest of the Bronte siblings to reach adulthood, she was the last to die. She wrote Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette, and died on 31 March 1855, aged 38. Her bicentenary is celebrated this year, and those of Branwell Brontë in 2017,  Emily Brontë in 2018 and Anne Brontë in 2020.

This post is a quick reminder of some of the resources we have available in the library for Bronte students…look out for more Bronte posts in the future.


The library holds a wealth of Charlotte Bronte resources for everyone, from students to simply curious browsers: Charlotte Bronte’s entry in the DNB (Dictionary of National Biography) gives a concise but detailed account of the life of this shy, complex and talented writer, with links to additional resources.


The online Encyclopaedia Britannica’s topic pages  also gives extensive lists of useful sources of further reading.  Britannica Library for students gives an excellent and well-written article about the Bronte family’s difficult and intriguing life.

Don’t forget, with both these resources you are offered links to carefully chosen, credible sites on the internet, as well as primary sources, pictures, and library catalogue entries. You are also able to highlight particular words in the article for a more detailed explanation of their meaning if unsure.





And for further reading, the Times Digital Archive gives us a review of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte, an insight into the thoughts and attitudes of her contemporaries.



Online Resource of the month: Oxford English Dictionary Blog

OK so how can a dictionary be exciting? you may ask. I thought the same thing as I was about to explain to two youngsters doing their work experience here in Kensington Central Library.

Well, it is easier than you think. The Oxford English Dictionary shows you just how diverse our language is. It isn’t just a language derived from a single origin but a number of origins – Greek, Latin, French, Arabic, German, Japanese, and more… It shows each word’s history by telling of the origins of words, their first use, their reasons for meaning what they do as well as just what they mean now and other words which can be used in their stead.

I also enjoy the fact that, when you are told that you have spelt a word wrong- perhaps spelling it as it sounds-  it is  perhaps we ourselves who are a bit silly trying to enforce spelling, as words have developed their spelling over a great many years. Indeed, a word’s spelling is simply a way of making it understood verbally, not as the modern age suggests, which is a rule which we must follow to the letter!

You can visit and search through the Oxford English Dictionary online and look at…

  • The word of the day
  • History of words and when they were first used
  • Weekdays named after ancient gods
  • Months meaning (inaccurate) numbers and Roman emperors
  • The sheer number of words – 600,000
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary

In the library you will be signed in automatically and from outside you will just need to type in your Kensington and Chelsea library card number. Please ask a member of staff if you need any help, and we will be happy to give you a hand!

Write like a pro with Oxford Dictionaries

Hiru Amin, Central Reference Library, writes: 

I have spent hours at Kensington Central Reference Library, browsing and deliberating on the information in the vast range of books, but there are more ways of continuing to use reference works for those people who have access to the internet at home.  The Oxford Dictionaries Pro is one such online resource.



These are some of the gems which are useful for students, general reference enquirers and enthusiasts and writers in the Explore and the Premium sections of Oxford Pro:

  • OxfordWords blog
  • Wordlists
  • Your Language questions
  • Games and quizzes
  • Word origins
  • Oxford Dictionaries Community
  • New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide
  • New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors
  • Pocket Fowler’s Modern English Usage
  • Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage


Language and translations

The Oxford Dictionaries Pro is a useful and magical resource for anyone seeking information on word meanings and origins.   Those people seeking translations of single words or sentences, can get very quick answers from English to German, French, Spanish, Arabic and visa versa.  Google is great for translations, but give this a try, it is equally brilliant and the answers are professionally sourced!  Bookmarking this resource would be quicker than seeking answers by general Googling or going off to find a book.


Word Style


Oxford’s Style Guide, New Hart’s Rule and the writers and editors dictionaries are essential for students or writers of any subject whether for print or online.  Every aspect of writing is covered from spelling and punctuation to capitalisation, using quotations, how to write books titles and bibliographies to typography and copyright.    All categories of writing are covered from science and mathematical, art and illustration to indexing and listings.

An example of how to use punctuation in writing :

 An ellipsis at the end of an incomplete sentence is not followed by a fourth full point. When an incomplete sentence is an embedded quotation within a larger complete sentence, the normal sentence full point is added after the final quotation mark:

I only said, ‘If we could …’.

And an example of useful information on page design, very useful not only publishing work but also daily displays and report writing:

The aesthetics of page design often dictate the layout of illustrations for print output. Pictures generally appear at the bottom or top of a printed page, or may bleed over the cut edge. Illustrations to be set landscape should always be placed with the head of the illustration turned to the left. In double-column formats, multiple illustrations should follow the flow of the text on the page: down the left column and then down the right. Running heads and page numbers are generally omitted from full-page illustrations in books…


Blog about a blog



You can be sure that the Blogs section in Oxford Dictionaries Pro will leave you intrigued and thirsty for more blogs about languages- or even to write your own blog!  Elephants in English is one such blog, full of amazing history and facts to tempt you to seek further information on this subject or other subjects. Every aspect of elephant is covered from when the elephant first triumphed in the English language:

…and it was from Latin sources that elephants first came to the notice of English writers. The earliest references to elephants are found in Old English literature, where they are called elps, a severely shortened form of Latin elephantem. Later texts use a fuller form of the word, oliphant, which is also (in the variant form oliphaunt) what the Hobbits in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings called the elephant-type creatures of Middle Earth.

 There lots of other blogs to read and equally interesting, such as What’s in a name…Bob’s your uncle and some blogs on the origins of everyday expressions.

Find out everything about everything! Oxford Reference Online: July’s online resource of the month

Sandeep Dhaliwal, our Tri-borough Reference Librarian, writes:

Oxford Reference Online
Oxford Reference Online

Did you know that the name Vera is Slavic for “faith”?

Or that the Oscar statues given out at the Academy Awards are 13 1/2 inches high?

Or who said “When I was young, I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in a sock. So I stopped wearing socks”?*

Or what the aberration of starlight is?

You can find the answer to these questions- and more questions!- in our Oxford Reference Online database.

Oxford University Press publishes many reference, professional, and academic works including the Oxford English DictionaryOxford World’s Classics,  and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. A number of its most important titles are now available electronically in a package called Oxford Reference Online, and are offered free to those with a K&C library membership.

Oxford Reference Online
Oxford Reference Online

Oxford Reference Online is a vast online reference resource which combines in-depth content offered by titles in the acclaimed Oxford series with authoritative, quick-reference coverage of the full subject spectrum from art to zoology and has:

  • Over 2 million entries across Oxford’s Dictionaries, Companions and Encyclopaedias spanning 25 different subjects
  • English dictionaries and bilingual dictionaries of French, German, Spanish, Italian and Latin
  • Thesauri, and guides to English grammar and usage
  • Timelines to over 2,000 key events in history including Art, Literature, Science, Technology and War
  • Over 12,000 illustrations – including 6,000 in full colour with fully searchable captions and 500+ full-colour maps and flags
  • Over 2,600 high-quality and carefully researched web links

Why not take a tour? It’s perfect for serious researchers and casual browsers alike! It is free to use and available 24/7 to library members.

A full list of online resources which the library service currently offers is available on our website.


 *Albert Einstein