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.