English Literature Personal Statement

To me the study of literature is the study of the human imagination. The written word acts as a gateway between us and centuries of ideas, connecting us with some of the greatest and most eloquent minds in history. For example, William Blake's poetry introduced me to deep philosophical questions on the importance of the natural world, its links to us and the very nature of what it is to be human, ideas I have previously never even considered. The profound effect Blake had directed me in my wider reading; familiarising myself with Wordsworth and Keats increased my critical appreciation of all three. 'Ode to a Nightingale' especially aroused my interest, re-addressing Blakian themes of the beauty of natural world and mans' place within it. Blake also led me to read 'Paradise Lost,' wishing to gain a fuller understanding of the Satan and his rebellion that the Romantics held in such high regard.

Encouraged by this fascination for new thinking and perspectives, Donne came to my attention. 'The Sun Rising' and his meditations particularly induced my respect for his powerful rhetoric and idiosyncratic use of form and language. Donne necessarily brought with him the rest of the metaphysical tradition: Marvell, Vaughan and Herbert. Obviously, when regarded philosophically there is no lack of complex and exhilarating ideas within this group. The intricate, and sometimes slightly odd, use of logic and imagery allows for an infinitely vast array of interpretations; keeping me constantly thinking on the purpose and use of each verse.

This is something I also found whilst reading 'The Wasteland' as background for my A-level War literature unit. Elliot's obscure and counter-intuitive metaphors allow for countless nuances in understanding, making this poem one of the more fascinating I have ever read. Studying the authors, poets and playwrights of the Great War opened my eyes to the importance of literature in understanding vastly different experiences. Although my studies in history have acquainted with the facts, figures and manoeuvres of the Great War, it is only the emotive poetry of Owen, Rosenberg and others and the empathy forced on audiences in the final scene of Journey's End that truly brought home, as far as it can, the horror that was faced, in a way that no history book ever had. Having moved to Manchester at the start of the year, I have become increasingly engaged in the literary scene. Joining the 'English Society' and the 'Art of the Russian short story society' has given me the opportunity to discuss various texts that I would not normally have even heard of, most memorably Gogol's 'The Nose,' a wonderfully aberrant piece of writing, and having previously read 'Dead Souls,' expanded my knowledge of the satire and wit with which Gogol critiques Russian feudal society.

I have tried to take advantage of the drama available in Manchester. So far I have seen performances of 'Henry V' and 'An Ideal Husband' at the Royal Exchange Theatre, both extremely enjoyable and Henry V's prologue especially sparking my interest, touching on the importance of imagination and an active mind in reading literature. Over the summer I also visited the Globe. Seeing productions of Othello and the Merchant of Venice encouraged me to explore more Elizabethan theatre, reading Marlowe's 'Dr Faustus' and 'The Jew of Malta.'

My love of literature was certainly not to the detriment of my other studies or social life. I was awarded the 'Student of the year' prize for my History class and was prefect during my last year in sixth form. I am also an avid runner and play a variety of sports whilst also maintaining an interest in playing guitar.

After attending lectures in English and having discussions with both English students and lecturers in Manchester I feel that studying Literature will provide me with the intellectual stimulation that I require and also, possibly most importantly, with the transferable skills that employers are looking for in the labour market after university.

Profile info

This personal statement was written by shaggydawg for application in 2000.

shaggydawg's Comments

used this to apply to do english lit at manchester uni. Got in. Just sticking it up for anyone to use :)


Statement rating:***


this statement scared the

this statement scared the hell out of me.

i dont think im as good at english as i thort i was :S

This is amazing! It really

This is amazing! It really helped me to get started.

copy and paste job matey ;

copy and paste job matey ;)you sly dog.

this is great, man. thanks

this is great, man. thanks for a leg up.

This scares me.

This scares me.
A lot.
I haven't read any of this stuff lol.


How keen can you get! just write I LIKE ENGLISH! no quotes required!


Have a day off mate

Good stuff

Hey, just dropping to say this is really excellent. Nice to see you haven't just peppered the admissions tutor with prizes, good meaty section on why you want to do English Literature...which is what they want!

this is great, i had no idea

this is great, i had no idea what to write about! and now i do. thanks so much. much love


How pretentious can you get..That much apparently.
Why have you spent your personal statement talking about poets and plays. Your supposed to talk about yourself..

I think more original

I think more original references would have been better. The works mentionned are pretty much all found on any A-Level Eng Lit course, so we don't know HOW much is independant reading.

I was impressed at first, but contemplating it, this flaw smacked me in the face.

This isn't pretentious at all

This isn't pretentious at all, although it isn't a great idea to spend such a focus on other texts, it's certainly not as sycophantic as you say.

This is absolutely brilliant!

This is absolutely brilliant!!! I envy you!!
My statement sucks compared to this!
It's good help though!

I liked this at first, but

I liked this at first, but was there any need to write about so many different pieces of literature - they want to know about you, not someone else!

Oh man.. I want to take lit

Oh man.. I want to take lit but now i feel pretty lost..

Brilliant, this has kick

Brilliant, this has kick started me.
Thanks to whoever wrote this.

Excellent work

Ignore comments criticising the use of quotation and the citing of books, that is exactly how an English Literature statement should be written, and, if you read any succesful Oxbridge application, how any succesful application will be written. Showing a breadth of reading, understanding and interest is hardly pretentious, infact it's neccessary to get into a good university.

This is a great statement. I

This is a great statement. I love what's been said about Blake; as an English student as well as a Philosophy student I can definately relate to this.

To those people who have insulted this statement...learn to spell before you criticise because to have a go at an English student when you can't spell or punctuate correctly is pretty stupid.

I've found this of great help, so thank you.

Beautifully eloquent! Thanks

Beautifully eloquent! Thanks for this, it's really inspired me (and also made my own feeble attempts at statement writing thus far seem somewhat redundant.) Reading your statement has been a kick up the proverbial arse; I better get a move on!

"i dont think im as good at english as i thort i was :S"

Evidently. Although I'm shocked you even THOUGHT so in the first place.

boom baby

i dont like this personal statement...it goes against most things this site tells you to do and is somebodys imitation at being skillful at english....you may aswell have given them a diary of what youve learned since nursery-they wanna know about you!!!BUT!!!you got in:grats :)


Very impressive. My personal statement has gone back to being blank!

very daunting task ahead after reading this


Some of the criticisms of this seem to be that they talk about other poets too much and not about themselves. I would say that a university couldn't care less about you individually, although they may care about you academically. I mean, they couldn't give a fuck whether you like to go fishing at the weekends or find solace in watching "jimmy kyle" or whatever that program is. University wants to know whether you have the academic grounding to take part in their course and so talking about yourself as a person is entirely pointless.

And pretentiousness seems to be a word that people jump to as soon as they can't match anothers work.

This statement really scared

This statement really scared me. also, the lanuage you use is very intimidating. I highly doubt you speak like this everyday

If you really did read T S

If you really did read T S Eliot's 'The Waste Land' you would know that his name is spealt with one 'l'. Otherwise, you are referring to George Elliot, another great writer who penned 'Middlemarch' and 'Silas Marner'.

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