English reading list

For applicants

A student reading by a window

Reading in King's Library

We advise you to read the English page thoroughly. For reading and preparation advice, you will find the following sections particularly useful:

Do also keep an eye on the subject resources, which provide more general guidance and examples for developing your academic interests.

For King's offer holders

Please use this list to prepare yourself over the summer. You should read as many of these books as possible, and we would like you to have read all asterisked titles by the time you start your course.

Primary texts

  • Homer, Odyssey, e.g. in the Penguin Classics or Oxford World’s Classics editions *
  • Homer, Iliad, e.g. in the Penguin Classics or Oxford World’s Classics editions *
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses, many translations, including Mary M Innes (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955)*
  • Virgil, Aeneid, e.g. in the Penguin Classics or Oxford World’s Classics editions *
  • The Bible (authorized version), begin with Genesis, Exodus, Job, Psalms, Song of Solomon, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and Revelation *
  • Shakespeare, as many of the plays as possible as well as the Sonnets
  • Milton, Paradise Lost, e.g. ed. Alastair Fowler (London: Longman, 1971)
  • Richardson, Samuel, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, ed. Peter Sabor, intr. Margaret Anne Doody (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985)
  • Wordsworth, William, The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850, ed. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams and Stephen Gill (New York: Norton, 1979)
  • Dickens, Charles, Bleak House, e.g. ed. Nicola Bradbury (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003) *
  • Eliot, T. S., Selected Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1954; repr. 1961, 2002 printing available in paperback)*
  • Beckett, Samuel, Collected Shorter Plays (London: Faber & Faber, 1984) *

Secondary texts

  • Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953)
  • John Lennard, The Poetry Handbook: A Guide to Reading Poetry for Pleasure and Practical Criticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)
  • Richard Lanham, A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, 2nd edn (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991)
  • Mieke Bal, Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, 2nd edn (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997)
  • Frank Lentricchia, and Thomas McLaughlin, eds, Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2nd edn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995)
  • Robert Alter, and Frank Kermode, eds, The Literary Guide to the Bible (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1987)

For more information, please consult the Faculty of English website

Reading lists | For offer holders | Undergraduate study