National Clerihew Day 2020 - Important Date, History, & How to celebrate the National Clerihew Day

National Clerihew Day 2020 is observed on 10 July 2020 to commemorate the poems of Edmund Clerihew Bentley and to encourage the people to read and write their own form of clerihew. Get more information about the history of National Clerihew Day, & how to celebrate the National Clerihew Day 2020 from this article.

Sheena | Updated Jul 08, 2020 17:34 PM

National Clerihew Day 2020 - Important Date, History, & How to celebrate the National Clerihew Day

National Clerihew Day 2020

National Clerihew Day is celebrated on 10 July of every year. National Clerihew Day 2020 is a day recognized as the birth anniversary of Edmund Clerihew Bentley who is known for his popular two rhyme couplets funny poems. On this National Clerihew Day, let's enjoy the fun of the clerihew and bring out the poetic side of oneself.

What is Clerihew?

Clerihew is a simple four-line poem created by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The poems may be critical but they are mainly used in jokes. The rhythm involved is bouncy, sing-songy, and ultimately captivating. For a Clerihew typically there are five classic rules:

  • Consist of four lines

  • Contain AA / BB rhyming couplets

  • Have the name of a person in the first line

  • Say something thing about that person

  • Should be humorous

What is the history of the National Clerihew Day?

This day is celebrated in the remembrance of Edmund Clerihew Bentley on his birthday who is an English novelist and humorist in the early 20th century. Bentley invented the clerihew when he was a student at St. Paul's School in London, aged 16. He was in science class when a poem came into his mind about Sir Humphry Davy.

“Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.”

Bentley had worked on many publications as a journalist, including the Daily Telegraph. His first published poetry book, titled ‘Biography for Beginners’ in 1905 which made popular the clerihew form, and the other two collections were ‘More Biography’ and ‘Baseless Biography’. His detective novel, Trent's Last Case was highly praised, numbering Dorothy L. Sayers among his admirers, and with its mystifying plotting, the first truly modern mystery can be seen.

There was also a short storybook of Trent, Trent Intervening. Several of his books were reprinted by House of Stratus in the early 2000s. Bentley 's work inspired many other writers, who themselves went on to write clerihews. Some include W.H. Auden, Dorothy Parker, Sir Francis Meynell, George Starbuck, and Clifton Fadiman.

How to write Clerihew?

Clerihews are short and simple, and there are not many rules for them. Clerihews are great because they give the opportunity to use creativity to express oneself in an entertaining and amusing way. Some o the common guidelines to write the clerihew are as follows:

  • Only four lines for all clerihews, nothing less, nothing more

  • Whichever you write about your clerihew, his or her name needs to appear somewhere in the poem's first line

  • Clerihews are fun to compose since they adopt a basic rhyming scheme of AABB. The second and first lines have to rhyme together for this sequence, and the third and fourth lines must also rhyme with each other

  • The length of the line for this poetry style lies entirely up to the writer

Note clerihews are supposed to be enjoyable. One should also bear in mind other people's feelings when writing poems and should not write something that will harm somebody's feelings. Use imagination to exaggerate things comically, but to create an enjoyable poem one should never lie or make up details. Think of the light-hearted, sweet jokes to make the clerihew more fun.

The easiest way to start writing clerihews is to write about oneself first. Think something unique about yourself and write it. Remember it should be in four lines only so don't complicate too much. Refer to some of the popular clerihews for better ideas. The poems should be fun to read not to hurt other feelings. Funny poems reach a wider audience so think and write in a funny way.

How to observe National Clerihew Day?

On National Clerihew Day, have fun by reading the popular clerihews. Some of the other ways to enjoy this day are as follows:

  • Read some of Bentley's clerihew works and other famous writers' clerihew 

  • Try to write your own clerihew and share it with families and friends

  • Use #NationalClerihewDay on social media and share the favourite clerihew 

Popular Clerihew

“Sir Christopher Wren
Said, 'I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul's.”

“Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Worked swiftly if not gently,
Tracking murderers down by a hidden clew
In whodunit and clerihew.”

“John Stuart Mill,
By a mighty effort of will,
Overcame his natural bonhomie
And wrote 'Principles of Political Economy'.”

“George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.”

“Daniel Defoe
Lived a long time ago.
He had nothing to do so
He wrote Robinson Crusoe.”

“What I like about Clive 
Is that he is no longer alive. 
There is a great deal to be said
 For being dead.”

“Johann Sebastian Bach
was fond of saying, "Ach!"
And instead of saying "Guten Morgen"
He played the Toccata and Fugue on the organ!”

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National Clerihew Day - FAQ

1. Who invented Clerihews?

Clerihew was invented by the writer and humorist Edmund Clerihew Bentley, and it is a four-line poem of two rhyming couplets. Clerihews typically deals wittily with some aspect of a well-known person's life or career, whose name constitutes the first line.

2. Why is it called a Clerihew?

The form was created by Edmund Clerihew Bentley and is named after him. When he was a 16-year-old pupil at St Paul's School in London, during a science class, his first clerihew 's lines about Humphry Davy came up in his head.

3. How many lines are in a Clerihew?

The poetic style of Clerihew is only four lines long, so that clerihews are fairly easy to write and extremely quick to read.

4. Is the Clerihew a mean or a funny poem?

Clerihews are funny poems. The first and second lines rhyme to each other, and the third and fourth lines rhyme to each other. The first line names a person, and the second line ends with something rhyming with the person's name.