Got my rejection letter in the post today.
I'm really devastated. As I'm sure you all did, I spent hours and hours on the application, and my £50 application fee came out of my food budget for October. Had I got in, it would've been the best £50 I ever spent! Not sure what more I could have done to maximise my chances - I have a first class degree in English, a year working as SU officer, lovely referees and a painstakingly written research proposal.
I think it's that my research proposal ('problematic' or censure-inducing sexuality in modern American literature) is too contemporary/doesn't match up to Oxford or Cambridge lecturers' fields but I kind of want to shout, well if you don't take one a student studying this unusual new area, how do you expect to be ahead of the curve?! I suppose they'd argue that they are at the forefront of research in Renaissance/Modernist/Romantic literature and have that covered in such a world leading manner to be able to leave late C20th developments to Sussex or Warwick. I predict I'll come up against this dichotomy at PhD level too.
I've got offers elsewhere but there's no denying the cachet of Oxbridge. Thanks for your support and good luck to everyone en route to dreaming spires.