The Moustache’s Progress: Professor John Hudson on ‘Movember’

Recent visitors to the School of History might have noticed a new and slightly surprising development over the past month on the upper lip of Professor John Hudson, the Head of School. He kindly agreed to answer a few questions posed by the School of History’s Communications Intern Dawn Jackson Williams about the progress of the moustache – and to provide us with pictures.

A moustachioed historian, but not Professor Hudson - FW Maitland, the great legal historian (1850-1906).

The moustachioed F. W. Maitland, the great legal historian (1850-1906).

Q: What is Movember?
A: It is a form of sponsored humiliation / vanity, where you have to grow a moustache for the month of November; money raised through sponsorship goes to men’s health charities.

Q: Why have you chosen to participate?
A: The best of all possible reasons – publicity for Movember in the local pub.

Q: Have you ever grown a moustache before? Why / why not?
A: No – I had a lack of desire to, and an inability to put up with the early, itchy stages of unshavenness.

Q: Do you find people react to you differently with a moustache than without?
A: Some studiously ignore it, others stare compulsively, a few comment – my favourite comment being from a colleague, ‘I wouldn’t have the nerve to do anything that looks as ridiculous as that.’

One of several moustaches featured on the Bayeux Tapestry.

One of several moustaches featured on the Bayeux Tapestry.

Q: Will the moustache be sticking around after November?
A: Shame on you, you are meant to be a research student, and haven’t done your research properly… the (extensive) rules of Movember require that the moustache disappear at the end of the month. [Dawn Jackson Williams would like to protest that, due to her inability to grow a moustache, the rules of Movember have not been at the top of her reading priorities this month. That said, subsequent research has demonstrated that facial hair is not a requirement to be involved in Movember].

Q: Do you know anything about the historical background of moustaches?
A: There are some particularly fine moustaches on the Bayeux Tapestry, and the greatest of English medieval legal historians, F. W. Maitland, sported a fine moustache.

As for the significance of facial hair, all I can do is refer you to the definitive work on the subject, ‘Symbolic meanings of hair in the Middle Ages‘, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th Ser. 4 (1994), 43-60, by Professor Robert Bartlett, who has been known to have a beard, but never – as far as I know – just a moustache.

Before and After.

Before and After.

Many thanks to Professor Hudson for responding to our questions.  If you would like to make a contribution towards Movember in celebration of the excellent moustache pictured above, you can do so at Professor Hudson’s Movember page.

About standrewshistory
With over forty fulltime members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from Scotland to Byzantium and the Americas to South Asia. Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching, allowing for in-depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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