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Department of English Literature – University of Reading

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  • The Samuel Beckett Collection

    Explore Dr Will Davies's research in the University of Reading's outstanding archives


    Learn about Dr Aisling Byrne's pioneering teaching and research on medieval fantasy literature


    Read about how our alumna Chayya Syal moved from a degree in English to a career in journalism


    Find out about Study Abroad opportunities and our unique Professional Track scheme from current student, Georgina Shaw

Department of English Literature

What do an award-winning teacher, a writer for the Talk Politics think tank, the director of an independent film company based at Pinewood Studios, and one of Forbes's 30 Under 30 Europe list of influential media figures have in common?

They all read English at Reading, and they all speak passionately about the importance of their degree in their subsequent success.

I currently work as a writer for a political think tank tackling voter apathy in young people. Communication has been key for my career, and I feel my English degree helped me with this hugely!

 - Oliver Ratcliffe, English and Politics, 2015

diversity, opportunity, community

The Department of English Literature is a diverse and vibrant community of students and academic staff, united in our passion for our subject. Our degrees give you the high-level skills of critical analysis, communication, negotiation, adaptability, problem solving, and cultural understanding that will be crucial to your success, both during and after university.

We offer innovative and flexible degrees that allow you to learn about the subjects that interest you most. We teach in small groups and offer one-to-one tuition so that you receive a bespoke education. In the National Student Survey 2020, 94% of our students said that staff were good at explaining things.

"The terrific range of modules on offer makes English Literature at Reading exciting and unique. This department tries to get the best out of its students, across the board. This shines through in the work the students are doing as well as the quality of the marking - staff are really engaged with their students and are constantly striving to encourage and support their intellectual growth."

 - External Examiner's report on the Department of English Literature, 2017.

Literary treasures at the University of Reading



Included in our collections:

  • a 1928 draft manuscript of Thomas Hardy's poem 'We Field-Women', which is explicitly related to his famous novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891)
  • the largest collection of Beckett original manuscripts
  • the 'Book of Poems' by John Donne, published 1633
  • books in our printing and publishing archives from publishing houses such as Chatto, Longmans and Hogarth Press amongst others.
  • original Mills and Boon publications including the first, 'Arrows in the Dark'.
  • 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte, presented under her pen name Currer Bell
  • Dickens' 'Dombey and Son' and 'Little Dorritt' as they were originally published
  • what is thought to be the first picture book for children, published in 1755
  • over 200 editions of 'The Wizard of Oz'
  • a rare edition of Oscar Wilde's 'Salome' with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley
  • a 1719 first publication of 'Robinson Crusoe' by Daniel Defoe - one of the first English language novels ever published, and we have hundreds of other editions
  • over 6000 books in our Children's Collection from the 17th to the 20th century
  • the Ladybird Book Collection

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The school of Literature and languages

The Department of English Literature is part of the School of Literature and Languages.


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