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A Levels - English Literature


Now is the perfect time to get ahead in your reading. Below are some of the set texts we will be studying at A Level over the next two years. Some of these are available free online, and all can be ordered on Amazon:

  • ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald

  • ‘Othello’ Shakespeare

  • ‘Brighton Rock’ by Graham Greene

  • ‘When Will There be Good News’ by Kate Atkinson


One of the genres we study is Crime Writing – so why not read around the subject and read some of these classic and contemporary crime texts?

  • Any Sherlock Holmes novel by Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Any Agatha Christie novel – ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, ‘Then There Were None’ and ‘The Crooked House’ are particularly recommended.

  • ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens

  • Any Dorothy L Sayers novel

  • ‘One Good Turn’ by Kate Atkinson

  • The Cuckoo’s Calling’ by Robert Galbriath (recommended for Harry Potter fans – these are actually written by JK Rowling under a pen name. A lot darker than Hogwarts though!)


You have to write two 1200 – 1500 word essays for A Level English Literature, one for poetry and one for prose.

  • For poetry we study ‘The World’s Wife’ by Carol Anne Duffy – why not order a copy and start reading the poems in advance. If not, you can look at the poems individually online. I recommend ‘Little Red Cap’, ‘The Devil’s Wife’ and ‘Anne Hathaway.’ Read and research these poems, what original stories are they based on? How are the stories twisted and changed? How do they challenge traditional depictions of women in literature?

  • For prose, you can choose your own text. Below is a list of suggested texts that would be suitable for A Level literature. If you have another book in mind, contact Ms Flowers and she can let you know if it meets the requirements. Don’t just limit yourself to one of these books – look them up online, read reviews and choose three or four that interest you. Lots of the older books are available to read for free online.

1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
2. Vernon God Little by Pierre DBC
3. Prose texts to consider:
4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
5. Dracula by Bram Stoker
6. Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
7. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
8. Half of a Yellow Sun by Adiche Chimanda
9. I know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
11. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
12. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
13. The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
15. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
16. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
17. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
18. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
19. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
20. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
21. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
22. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
23. Beloved by Toni Morrison
24. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
25. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseni
26. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
27. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
28. Mill on the Floss by George Elliot
29. Howards End by EM Forster
30. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks


There are lots of great films and TV shows you can watch that have literary merit –

why not try one or more of the shows below?


  • ‘The Great Gatsby’

  • ‘Sense and Sensibility’

  • ‘Pride and Prejudice’

  • ‘Emma’

  • ‘Upstart Crow’ (also available on BBC I Player) a great comedy series about the life of Shakespeare

  • The Crooked House

  • Sherlock Holmes (both the films and the updated TV show are brilliant)

Amazon Prime

  • King Lear

  • Richard II

  • The Hollow Crown

  • Shakespeare in Love (you do have to pay to rent this – but it’s absolutely brilliant!)

BBC I Player

  • Death on the Nile

  • Evil Under the Sun

  • Novels that Shaped our World – great for getting an insight into critical reading – and getting book recommendations!

  • The Secret Life of Books