English Literature Personal Statement

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good education must be in want of a university. Whether that’s plagiarism or tactical use of artistic licence is debatable. What is clear is that literature from writers such as Austen laid the foundation of my love of language. From the start of my literary career, reading Dahl and Horowitz, to my more recent reading of Byron, I’ve always loved literature and I’d love to be able to carry this onwards through higher education. Further study at University will enable me to focus more heavily on the aspects of literature I enjoy the most, helping me to develop my knowledge further.

English literature isn’t just something I study; it’s a part of my life. My passion has led me to visit both Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy in spoken-word performances. Armitage’s ‘Zoom’ in particular, came to life when read out-loud by its author, with his aural dynamics highlighting the growing structure of the poem. One area I’ve recently discovered is dystopian literature. Introduced to the theme by ‘1984’, I was led into the world of broken societies. With the themes being disturbingly realistic, I was hooked; the idea of increasing surveillance and miscreant morals being bizarrely enjoyable. Other novels I’ve enjoyed were Atwood’s ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ and P.D James’ ‘The Children of Men’. Religious fundamentalism and worldwide infertility respectively affected the psychology and actions of the population in the literature, an idea I’ve been interested in since I started researching morals and ethics alongside my Religious Studies A-level.

The adaptation of literature for the stage has played a major part in my life. My appreciation of plays was kick-started when I successfully auditioned for National Youth Theatre (NYT) at the age of thirteen and this was followed by four years in the West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre, performing the works of brilliant modern writers such as Evan Placey. Playing Shakespeare’s Henry V helped me to appreciate the subtleties of characterisation from the master himself and my love of writing developed further when I began to research and perform monologues. Taking masterclasses all over the country, I was able to understand how, through using realism and simplicity in my acting, I could increase the power of the spoken word and this year I won the Monologue Slam, a national competition. Good writing can change society and for the past few years, I have been involved with the charity ‘Young Minds’. Our team scripted and created videos to help professionals to handle young people with mental health issues; with our work being nominated for an innovation award.

My love of language has also led me to compose creative pieces myself. Whether it be writing comedy sketches, attending script development workshops with writers such as Oladipo Agboluaje, or acting as editor for a writer of children’s literature, I have followed this calling. I’ve also written a short dialogue for the NYT and a longer play, in the style of Agatha Christie, performed on the main stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. My skills in creating content are developed well through my A-level in Fine Art, with many transferable skills coming from the process of expressing emotions through a brush.

I have good organisation, communication and leadership skills. Whether it be playing hockey for school and city or achieving merit at Grade Eight Saxophone, I’ve been able to develop these skills. In my two weeks of work experience, I was challenged with social media management and client calling. Not only did it increase my appreciation of expectations in the workplace, but it also helped to develop my listening and organisation skills. Each week I’m employed to work with a drama class of 8-10 year olds and each year I direct an hour-long sketch show, performed to the school to raise money for the local homeless charity. Both of these have helped to develop my leadership skills and appreciation of dramatic texts. Last summer I went on an expedition to Ecuador where we took it in turns to organise and lead the day’s itinerary. I was flattered that my Expedition Tutor called me a ‘charismatic leader’ and ‘inclusive decision maker’.

In the immortal words of Dickens, if I am able to study for an English degree, it will indeed be ‘… a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.’

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