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  • "You can pick up a book but a book can throw you across the room." Jeanette Winterson



At the University of Reading Department of English Literature we are proud to provide students with an excellent standard of material to assist their academic studies. This includes general resources available to all students, such as the library, email, and e-facilities, as well as subject-specific materials. For instance, our department provides its students with access to unique original manuscript collections, journals, the Museum of English Rural Life and its archives, a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, rare collections of books, and much more besides.

 Literary Treasures at the University of Reading


Blackboard is a virtual learning environment run by the University of Reading. You will be given your own account and personalised page when you arrive in fresher's week. Blackboard is a useful place to collate information and to facilitate communication between you and your lecturers. Reading material, lecture slides and handouts for your modules are regularly uploaded, which is a great help when the time comes for revising.


Print Resources

In addition to the library at Whiteknights campus, English Literature students are given access to the Special Collections archive of rare books at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). Here we house rare book collections which include the Donald Gordon collection of books by and about W. B. Yeats, and the Matthews-Shelley collection of books by and about P. B. Shelley amongst many others. Perhaps our most extensive archive is the Children's Collection, which comprises over 6,000 books and journals written for children. The collection is complemented by several other specific archives including, the Crusoe Collection, the Wizard of Oz Collection and the Brock Collection.


The Department has access to original and unique manuscripts, housed in Special Collections. Students at all levels are given access to the manuscript collections, but in the Final Year you are given the opportunity to handle and study the manuscripts through 'The Writer's Workshop: Studying Manuscripts', 'Samuel Beckett' and 'Editing the Renaissance' modules. Furthermore, students can choose to base their Final Year dissertations on an individual manuscript or group of manuscripts.

Electronic Resources

We provide students with an array of online resources which are of particular relevance to the English Literature programme. This grants you free access to material which you would otherwise have to pay for over the internet. Access to online resources is available all over campus and off campus too. Online material comprises the Oxford English Dictionary, The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, literature-based journal subscriptions and archives, e-books and specialist databases such as Early English Books Online (EEBO).

Royal Literary Fund Fellow

Each year the Department has a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. This post is filled by a professional writer who is external to the University. The role of the Fellow is to advise students purely on their writing techniques. This can be in relation to essays and coursework, or for personal pieces. Students have often found this service very helpful as it provides another opportunity to discuss and gain feedback on the construction of their work.

English Literature courses

Find out about what courses we offer in English Literature.

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