24 Hours In The Library

MOLLIE WINTLE recalls her traumatic experience spending 24 long hours within the four walls of Murray Edwards’ college library.

all-nighter Books Exams Features imogen stubbs john donne Library library marathon mollie wintle paula radcliffe working

Having been reduced to tears in my last supervision as my supervisor gently and expertly tore apart my take on Tamburlaine the Great Parts 1 and 2, I decided it was time to introduce my nose to a grindstone via the tried-and-tested method of spending 24 hours in the library.

And so, armed with nothing more than the complete works of John Donne and a can-do attitude, I entered the Murray Edwards library with no real intention of leaving anytime soon.

9:00 This is great. No internet. No kettle. It’s just me and Donne. I think this essay will get Donne very quickly, if you know what I mean.

9:01 Just Donne know why I didn’t think of this before.

9:04 Think will have a little nap on desk to prepare myself for the journey ahead.

9:38 Feeling fresh.

9:43 Go to Donne section and take out ALL books ever written on and by him. Lay them out on my desk like a little hareem. Take that, supervision partner.

10:00 Librarian looks uncannily similar to Imogen Stubbs. Something to do with the eyebrows.

10:01 Like really, really similar.

10:06 Maybe it is Imogen Stubbs.

10:17 Can’t believe Imogen Stubbs works in our library! Shouldn’t she be on a stage somewhere? Feel like I should tell someone. Actress by day – and librarian also by day. Tab exclusive right here.

Imogen Stubbs/ Murray Edwards librarian

10:18 Should really pick an essay title.

10:32 Ok. Think I’m going to discuss Donne’s treatment of the body as an expressive medium or rhetorical device. Nbd.

11:54 Just remembered that once my friend Georgia was revising in her local library, and after a few hours looked under her desk only to find a tramp fast asleep. Bewildering. Surreal. Sad.

11:55 Hope there’s not a tramp under my desk.

11:57 Should check.

11:58 Argh. Ignorance is bliss.

12:01 Have just checked. There is no tramp. Unless he is a very tiny tramp. In which case he would not pose much of a problem.

1:15 SO HUNGRY. Small problem in that you’re not allowed to eat in the library. Problem solved by the fact that I eat rules for breakfast. Nina brings me a sandwich and I brazenly eat it in full view of the other students. Fuck da police.

An inspiration to us all

1:58 I miss fresh air. I am like a dog in the back of a car whose window has not been wound down.

1:59 Or Gollum in his little boat on the underground lake.

2:12 Also miss talking. Am social butterfly. Must flap wings – or die. Like shark.

2:31 Feeling quite weak. Possible that immune system is suffering from too much exposure to the library. Is huge culture shock. Alien as Ghana or Girton. Want to call my mum.

2:32 No phones allowed.

2:38 No nooo have remembered that computers in basement of library have internet. Shit. I give myself eight minutes. 

2:42 Cracked in four. Am happily on facebook stalking my old RS teacher.

2:57 @Qcorridor has definitely been suffering in my absence. Tweet an uplifting message so followers do not get too downhearted #gooddeed

3:40 Back on first floor. Little to report.

4:18 ‘her pure and eloquent blood / Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought / That one might almost say, her body thought.’ Keep it coming, Donne.

5:00 Speculation of the hour: how many times in the history of poetry the word tock has been rhymed with clock.

6:40 Have texted everyone I know saying I’m about to keel over with boredom. Mum texts back with a sad face. It’s good to know people still care. Thanks Mum. 

6:47 Brother has texted back saying I should put all the feminist literary criticism in the fiction section. What a baffling suggestion.

6:58 ….where are all my friends?? Have I been deluding myself this whole time? Maybe they were only ever acquaintances I latched onto prematurely. My texts probably registered as an unknown number.

7:02 Yes! A friend text!

7:03 Lou: ‘Join the club… This essay  is boring.’ Well not as boring as that text, Lou

7:24 There’s a third-year who’s been sitting two desks opposite from me for NINE HOURS. We both know what’s going on. Well you chose the wrong day for this, my friend. The joke is on you if you think you’ll last this one out. I’m only just getting started. I could stay here all week if I wanted NO SWEAT.

Me in the library

7:32 WHAT CAN SHE POSSIBLY BE DOING IS SHE TRANSLATING THE BIBLE OR MAKING A DOUBLE HELIX I DON’T KNOW BUT I AM FEELING EXTREMELY ANNOYED. Frankly, I’m concerned for her mental health. No-one should be in the library for this long.

7:58 She just left. I feel like I have run a marathon.

And won gold.

8:04 Did you know John Donne was related to Thomas More? Me neither.


Will Mollie survive 24 hours in the library? Will she retain her sanity? Will Imogen Stubbs EVER leave?

Discover Mollie’s fate here.