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Hungarian High School Student Wins One of Oxford’s Most Prestigious Essay Competitions

Júlia Tar 2021.10.19.

A Hungarian student from the László Lovassy High School in Veszprém and the Milestone Institute has won the Mary Renault Prize, one of the best-known and most prestigious essay competitions in Oxford.

The website of St Hugh’s College of the University of Oxford announced that this year they once again had “an excellent selection of essays on many different aspects of classical reception, with a strong international field.” Hungarian student, Olivér Csákány, won the Mary Renault Prize 2021 for his essay “Uranian Literature and Pastoral Poetry; or, Edward Cracroft Lefroy’s Echoes from Theocritus.

“The limit was 4,000 words, which was a big problem because I was constantly feeling that although I have some chapters that would be very good in a thesis or a dissertation, here there is simply no room to expand on the topics and I am just scratching the surface. I thought my essay would not be well received,”

the 18-years-old student told Eduline.

As stated on the website, “the Mary Renault Prize is a Classical Reception essay prize for school or college sixth form pupils, awarded by the Principal and Fellows of St Hugh’s College, and funded by the royalties from Mary Renault’s novels.” Mary Renault was an English writer best known for her historical novels set in ancient Greece. In addition to fictional portrayals of Theseus, Socrates, Plato, and Alexander the Great, she wrote a non-fiction biography of Alexander. Renault herself was a student at St Hugh’s in the 1920s, and the theme of the competition is classical antiquity, linked to the author’s novels.

The competition is open to entries from anywhere in the world, with English and non-English speakers in the same field. First place is usually awarded to British secondary school students or students from British international schools, and until now, there have been no Hungarian winners.

The UK’s top university essay competitions are particularly popular with British students- there is a site for secondary school students that lists the competitions with the slogan “straight to university,” Eduline reports.

The Milestone Institue also shared the good news on their Facebook page:

Featured image via the University of Oxford’s Facebook page