English Literature & Creative Writing Personal Statement
From Austen to Wilde, I am particularly interested in 19th century literature. This literary period fascinates me with its peculiar combination of beauty and cruelty. I realised the true power of this composite after rereading The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for the first time in three years in 2011.
I was surprised at how vastly my reading of it had altered: while I was initially intimidated by its darkness and psychology, I was now enthralled by the sensuous, almost physical imagery, the masterful structure and the poignant characterisation. An author's ability to produce charm from morbidity has since been an area of great interest to me.
My love of this era is also one of a socio-political nature - primarily, I am interested in the role and representation of women. I am currently producing an EPQ entitled 'How does the representation of women by the Bronte sisters differ from that of male writers in Victorian Britain?', in which I am comparing and contrasting their works with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the anonymous The String of Pearls and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I am finding this to be excellent practice in close and topical reading.
I also hold many modern works of literature in very high regard. My favourite is undoubtedly Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. Ondaatje's unpredictable prose reminds me of that of a witty, eloquent and enthusiastic conversationalist, with the rare ability to make the ordinary seem extraordinary. This was a novel that taught me that the unconventional can be just as awe-inspiring as the traditional.
I attended a college book club in my AS year, which allowed me to explore areas of literature that I would not have chosen to read for myself, such as Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, giving me a broader insight into Postcolonial literature.
At the end of the year, we read Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet - a favourite of mine due to its brilliant narrative - and Christie's Death on the Nile, and were then given the task of producing our own short detective stories.
This developed my insight into how a genre can be open to a rich diversity of styles and characters, and taught me that contrary to what Wilde's Lady Narborough might suggest, to define is not always to limit. This was also excellent practice in the art of making a piece fresh and interesting while drawing on ancient literary themes.
As this group required preparation and active and opinionated discussion, I feel it will help me to adjust to seminars.
I spend much of my free time reading and writing - scripts, prose and poetry - but I also have interests outside the subject, such as horse-riding. I have been riding since 2007 and owned a horse from 2009 - 2011, which taught me the valuable skills of dedication, time management and the ability to work in conditions which are not ideal: a lesson that has helped me to avoid the infamous problem of writers' block!
I also enjoy the theatre, both as a spectator and a performer - in 2009, I played Macbeth in a project run by the Royal Shakespeare Company - an experience which opened my eyes to the power of words, and solidified my appreciation for language. I am also fond of travelling, and especially love visiting places of historical and literary interest.
I have all but become a regular at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, and during a recent trip to Florence, I paid a visit to Santa Croce to explore the area described so beautifully by the brilliant E.M. Forster in A Room with a View.
My aspiration is to become a writer, though I do not yet know in what discipline. I hope that the study of English at university will help me to make that decision, and to develop my ability to read deeply and intellectually and to write in an original and, I hope, impressive manner. In return, I will bring boundless enthusiasm to the course.