English Literature - Selected Sources

Guides to Reference Sources

A Research Guide for Undergraduate Students: English and American Literature
Baker, Nancy L. & Nancy Huling

A guide to introduce undergraduate English literature students to library research. Explains the use of various library tools, including indexes, dictionaries, bibliographies, concordances, and literary encyclopedias.

PR 56 .B34 2006


Reference Works in British and American Literature
Bracken, James K

Focuses on reference resources devoted to individual writers. Lists major bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, concordances and journals.

Z 2011 .B74 1998


Literary Research Guide: an annotated listing of reference sources in English literary studies
Harner, James L

A selective and annotated guide to reference sources for the study of English literature (all regions). Divided into sections dealing with different genres of literature. Provides listings for important bibliographies, abstracts, surveys of research, indexes, databases, catalogues, general histories, annals, chronologies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks.  

Z 2011 .H34 2008


Encyclopedias & Bibliographies

Dictionary of Literary Biography

This series provides bio-bibliographical information for authors in numerous genre-specific and time-specific categories. It is largely focused on British literature with some French and American writers. To retrieve titles in the series, search on title for dictionary of literary biography in the U of T catalogue. Also available online as part of  Literature Resource Centre.

The Year's Work in English Studies.
vol. 1 (1919)-

Available online at UofT Libraries.
An annual narrative bibliography which aims to cover all work of quality in English studies published in a given year. Individual volumes are broken into chapters, each covering a major topic within English studies (e.g., the Romantic period).

PE 58 .E6


Ruffner’s Allusions: Cultural, Literary, Biblical and Historical: And Thematic Dictionary
Ruffner, Frederick G

PN43 .A49 2009


Literary Theory: An Introduction
Eagleton, Terry
Encyclopedia of the Literature of Empire
Snodgrass, Mary Ellen

Surveys the world's greatest literature about empires and imperialism, and examines authors, classic works, themes, and concepts, all related to particular empires in history or the general topics of imperialism and colonialism.

Encyclopedia of Literary Modernism
Poplawski, Paul, General Editor
A Dictionary of Literary Symbols
2nd Ed. (1st ed. 1999 in Stacks) Ferber, Michael

Explains symbols frequently appearing in Western literature, giving a history of their use and the contexts in which they frequently appear. Also offers guidance on how to research symbols not included in this dictionary.

PN 56 .S9 F47 2007


The Continuum Encyclopedia of Modern Criticism and Theory
general editor, Julian Wolfreys

PN94 .C695 2002


Reference Guide to World Literature
3rd Ed. vols. 1-2 . Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast, Eds.

Biographical /critical essays on world authors, specific work or works of an author, with criticism and analysis.

PN524 .R44 2003


Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century
vols. 1-4 . 3rd ed. Ed. Steven R. Serafin

Biographical information on authors, their works and criticism. Entries: national literatures with different genres within these traditions.

PN771 .E5 1999


New Penguin Dictionary of the Theatre
Eds. Jonathan Law, David Pickering and Richard Helfer
World authors, 2000-2005
Eds. Jennifer Curry
The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature
Ed. Steven R. Serafin and Valerie Grosvenor Myer

Short entries on major figures, genres and concepts.

PR 19 .C66 2003


The Oxford Companion to English Literature
Ed. Dinah Birch

PR19 .O93 2009


The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature
5 Vols. David Scott Kastan, Editor in Chief

Contains entries on individual British writers as well as general topics, genres, schools and institutions relating to British literature.

PR19 .O95 2006


British Writers
Vols. 1-8 + Supplements. Ed. Ian Scott-Kilvert

Chronologically covers writers from the 14th century to the present day. Essays give short bios of the subject, survey of subject's principle writings, assessment of work as a whole and bibliographies.

PR85 .B688


Encyclopedia of Literature and Criticism.
Eds. Martin Coyle et al

Periods in English literature (medieval, renaissance, postmodernism), poetry (epic & romance, Victorian, lyric), drama (tragedy, comedy, modern drama, feminist theatre), the novel (historical, feminine fictions, realism, formalism), critical traditions (biblical hermeneutics, neo-classical, new historicism), contexts (literature and the Bible, literature and music, aestheticism), and perspectives (African literature in English, African-American tradition, Indian literature in English).

PR85 .E49 1991


The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism
Stuart Curran, Ed.

Clear and coherent access to the historical roots, intellectual ferment and cultural range of British Romanticism .

Gothic Literature: A Gale Critical Companion
Jessica Bomarito, project editor
Encyclopedia of English Renaissance Renaissance Literature.
3 vols. Sullivan, Garrett A. Jr. and Alan Stewart

Comprehensive, scholarly and critical overview of literature and theory including individual titles covering key literary genres, periods and sub-disciplines.

PR411 .E53 2012


Encyclopedia of British Writers, 19th and 20th Centuries
Eds. Christine L. Krueger and George Stade

PR451 .E55 2003


Encyclopedia of Literary Romanticism
Maunder, Andrew

PR457 .E53 2010


Guide to British Prose Explication: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Beene, Lynndianne

Lists resources that explicate British prose writing. The resources provided include sections of books and journal articles.

PR861 .B38 1997


Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English
2nd ed. Ed. Eugene Benson and L.W

Entries include genres, major subjects (e.g., writing of the Canadian north) and critical bios of writers. Entries for regionsprovide context.

Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada
William H. New, Ed.
Oxford Concise Companion to Canadian Literature
2nd ed.Eds. Eugene Benson & William Toye
Encyclopedia of American Literature
(4 volumes) Eds. Clair Imbarrato and Carol Berkin
Reference Guide to American Literature
4th ed. Ed. Thomas Riggs

Entries on individual authors include biographical data, a bibliography including all the entrant's separately published works and a list of critical studies, and a signed critical essay on the entrant's work. Second part of the work contains short essays on key works.

PS21 .R43 2000


One Hundred Years of American Women Writing, 1848-1948: An Annotated Bio-Bibliography
Barstow, Jane Missner

Entries for American women writers working 1848 to 1948. Annotated bibliographies of critical materials on the authors' work.

PS151 .B37 1997


Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Bio-Biographical Critical Sourcebook
Ed. Denise D. Knight
The Facts on File Companion to the American Novel
Eds. Abby H. P. Werlock and James P. Werlock

Original essays on 500 novels and biographical overviews of 450 authors who have won critical acclaim and major literary awards.

PS371 .F33 2006


The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature
Vols. 1-5. 3rd ed.

Although dated (published between 1969 and 1975), this is a good guide to literature published by and about authors of English studies. It is restricted to the literature of the British Isles. For volume 3, see the 3rd ed. (1999) for more contemporary coverage.

Z 2011 .N45 1999


Literary/Cultural Theory & Terminology

A Dictionary of Critical Theory
Buchanan, Ian
A Glossary of Literary Terms
Abrams, M. H

This book defines and discusses terms, critical theories, and points of view commonly applied in classifying, analyzing, interpreting and writing the history of works of literature.” (from the Preface)

PN41 .A184 2015 11th Ed.

Reference and Stacks

A Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory
Cuddon, J. A

PN41 .C83 2013


A Handbook to Literature
11th Ed. Harmon, William

A listing of literary terms that are defined and explained. References are provided for the more difficult or important ones. In addition,, the “Outline of Literary History” that follows chartsthe most important events in the history of English literature.

PN41 .H6 2009


A New Handbook of Literary Terms
11th Ed. Mikics, David

A guide to words and concepts for literature students.

PN41 .M48 2007


Critical Survey of Literary Theory
vols. 1-4. Ed. Frank N. Magill

Covers major literary theorists, providing lists of their principal works of criticism, short essays providing overviews of their work, and bibliographies of works that address their theories.

PN 45 .C74 1987


Literary Theory: A Practical Introduction
2nd Ed. Ed. Michael Ryan

Introduces students to the full range of contemporary approaches to the study of literature and culture, from formalism, structuralism, and historicism to ethnic studies, gender studies, and post-colonial studies.

The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory.
vol. 1 (1991)-

Annual narrative bibliography that provides comprehensive cover of all work of quality in critical and cultural theory published in a given year. Volumes are broken into chapters, each covering major topics within critical/cultural theory (e.g., postcolonial theory).

PN 80 .Y4


The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory
general editor, Michael Ryan

Concepts, theorists, and trends in post-1900 literary and cultural theory. Entries: explanations of complex terms and important theoretical concepts, summaries and ideas of key figures. Volumes: "Literary Theory from 1900 to 1966," "Literary Theory from 1966 to the Present," and" Cultural Theory." Covers all aspects of twentieth-century literary and cultural theory.

PN81 .E654 2011


Encyclopedia of Literary Critics and Criticism
vols. 1-2. Ed. Chris Murray

Essay-length entries providing information on theorists' lives, their influence, and major works. Movements/concepts have entries.

PN 86 .E63 1999


Literary Theory and Criticism: An Oxford Guide
Ed. Patricia Waugh. Oxford University Press.

"This volume offers a comprehensive account of modern literary criticism, an ongoing historical and intellectual tradition."

Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z
Dupriez, Bernard

Entries with definitions and descriptions for terminology used in literary discourse. Examples further clarify the meaning of the term.

The Cambridge Companion to Narrative
Ed. David Herman

Overview to major approaches to narrative inquiry.

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory & Criticism
2nd ed. Eds. Michael Groden & Martin Kreiswirth

Introductions to major critics and theorists, critical and theoretical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods.

Biographical Sources

Dictionary of Literary Biography

An extensive series that provides bio-bibliographical information for authors in numerous genre-specific and time-specific categories. It focuses on British literature, although French and American writers are also included. To retrieve titles in the series, browse on series for dictionary of literary biography in the U of T catalogue. Also available online in the Literature Resource Centre.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Available Online.
Illustrated biographical dictionary of people of distinction in the British Isles and colonies, 4th century to the year 2000. Includes those who shaped history in the British Isles and beyond; people in public life (politics, government, the law, the church, the army and the navy). Covers scholarship, literature, art and architecture, music, science and medicine, education and philanthropy. Online as well.

DA 28 .O95 2004


Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and their Origins
5th Ed. Room, Adrian

Z1041 .R66 2010


Fiction -- General

Encyclopedia of the Novel
2 vols. Ed. Peter Melville Logan

PN 41 .E528 2011


The Facts on File Companion to the World Novel: 1900 to the Present
(2 vols.) Michael D. Sollars ed.

"(C)ollection of writings on almost 600 novelists and novels that emerged during arguably the most deamatic and transformative period in world literature."

Guide to British Prose Fiction Explication: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.
Contemporary Novelists
7th ed. Eds. Neil Schlager and Josh Lauer

Entries include a biography, a complete list of separately published books, and a signed essay. In many cases, a brief personal essay by the entrant commenting on his/her work is included. Critical works on the entrant are also listed.

The Cambridge Introduction to the Novel
Mackay, Marina
A Primer of the Novel for Readers and Writers
David Madden, Charles Bane, Sean M. Flory
Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature
3 volumes. Ed. Jennifer McClinton-Temple

PR19 .E53 2011


Themes and Settings in Fiction: A Bibliography of Bibliographies
Comps. Donald K. Hartman & Jerome Drost.

Bibliographies and Indexes in World Literature 14.

Z 5916 .H28 1988


Fiction -- Gothic, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy

The First Gothics: Critical Guide to the English Gothic
Frank, Frederick S
Guide to the Gothic: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism.
Reference Guide to Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
Burgess, Michael & Lisa R. Bartle
Greenwood encyclopedia of science fiction and fantasy: themes, works, and wonders.
Westfahl, Gary ed.

Foreword by Neil Gaiman

Research guide to Gothic literature in English: print and electronic sources
Sherri L. Brown, Carol Senf, Ellen J. Stockstill

This covers the study of Gothic cultural artifacts, focusing on narrative fiction.

The Gothic: a reader
Simon Bacon Ed.

This volume offers a new look at the world of the Gothic, from its origins in the eighteenth century to its reemergence today. Each short essay is dedicated to a single text – a novel, a film, a comic book series, a festival – that serves as a lens to explore the genre.

PN3448 .G68 G68 2018

(Vic Stacks)

Key concepts in the Gothic
William Hughes

Fiction -- The Short Story

Reference Guide to Short Fiction
2nd ed. Ed. Thomas Riggs
Short Story Index: Collections Indexed, 1900-1978.

Z 5917 .S5 C63


Index to Short Stories
+ Supplement. Firkins, Ina Ten Eyck

Z 5917 .S5 F5


Short Story Index *Online*

Indexes more than 72,000 stories from more than 4,200 collections and anthologies, and an additional 12,000 stories from periodicals. Subject access includes theme, locale and narrative technique or device.

Drama & Theatre

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama an international reference work in 5 volumes
Vols. 1-5. 2nd ed. Ed. Stanley Hochman

PN1625 .M3 1984


The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama
Eds. Gabrielle H. Cody and Evert Sprinchorn
The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre
Ed. Colin Chambers
The Ivan R Dee Guide to Plays and Playwrights
The Oxford Companion to the Theatre
Ed. Phyllis Hartnoll

PN2035 .O9 1983


Dictionary of the Theatre: Terms, Concepts, and Analysis
Pavis, Patrice

Contains theoretical, technical and semiotic terms and concepts (examples from international plays — classic and contemporary)

Ottemiller's Index to Plays in Collections: An Author and Title index to plays appearing in collections published between 1900 and 1985
Connor, Billie M. & Helene G. Mochedlover. 7th ed, rev. and enl. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.

Z5781 .O8 1988


Kelly Library: Research Guide to Shakespeare
The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare
Eds. Michael Dobson and Stanley Wells

PR2892 .O93 2015 2nd ed.

Reference and Stacks


Poetry: the Basics
Wainwright, Jeffrey .
Meter and Meaning: an Introduction to Rhythm in Poetry
Carper, Thomas
A Manual of English Meters
Malof, Joseph
Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms
Deutsch, Babette. 4th ed.
The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
Eds. Alex Preminger and T.V.F. Brogan.
The New Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms
T.V.F. Brogan, ed.
The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry
11th ed. Ed. Edith P. Hazen.

Indexes anthologies published through Jan. 31, 1997.

PN1022 .C64 1997


Patterns of Poetry: An Encyclopedia of Forms
Williams, Miller
The Columbia History of British Poetry
Ed. Carl Woodring

PR502 .C62 1994


The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry
James Chandler and Maureen N. McLane, eds.
British Poetry: 17th and 18th Centuries
Brackett, Virginia
The Facts on File companion to British poetry, 1900 to the present 
Eds James Persoon, Robert R. Watson
Poetry Explication: A Checklist of Interpretation since 1925 of British and American Poems Past and Present
Kuntz, Joseph M. & Nancy C. Martinez
Guide to British Poetry Explication
Vols. 1-4. Boston: G.K. Hall.

Vol. 1: Old-English - Medieval (Nancy C. Martinez & Joseph G.R. Martinez)
Vol. 2: Renaissance (Nancy C. Martinez & Joseph G.R. Martinez)
Vol. 3: Restoration - Romantic (Nancy C. Martinez, Joseph G.R. Martinez & Erland Anderson)
Vol. 4: Victorian - Contemporary (Nancy C. Martinez, Joseph G.R. Martinez & Erland Anderson)

Z 014 .P7 M34 1991


Guide to American Poetry Explication
Vols. 1-2

Vol. 1: Colonial and Nineteenth-Century (James Ruppert)
Vol. 2: Modern and Contemporary (John R. Leo)

The Sonnet in England and America: A Bibliography of Criticism
Comp. Herbert S. Donow. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Z 2014 .S6 D66


Epic and Romance Criticism: A Checklist of Interpretations
Vols. 1-2. Coleman, Arthur

Vol. 1: A Checklist of Interpretations, 1940-1972, of English and American Epics and Metrical Romances.
Vol. 2: A Checklist of Interpretations, 1940-1973, of Classical and Continental Epics and Metrical Romances.

Z 7156 .E6 C64


Representative Poetry On-line

A historical anthology of English poetry, from the early medieval period to the beginning of the 20th century, including about 3,000 English poems by 400 poets.

Useful Series

Authors Series

An extensive series that provides bio-bibliographical information for authors in numerous genre-specific and time-specific categories. To retrieve titles in the series, browse on series for authors series in the U of T catalogue.

Bloom's Major Dramatists, Novelists & Poets

Series covers a selection of major dramatists, novelists and poets, with each book in series devoted to a single writer. To retrieve titles in the series, click on “starting with (radio button)” “series (pull down menu)”; key in “blooms major dramatists” (or novelists or poets) in the U of T catalogue.


Many series run under the Masterplots title, including fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry.  Each series provides basic reference.

The Oxford History of English Literature

Individuals works in series cover specific genres (e.g., The Victorian Novel), specific time periodis (e.g., English literature, 1815-1832) or particular figures (e.g., Chaucer and the Fifteenth Century). To retrieve titles in the series, title for ‘oxford history of english literature’ in the U of T catalogue.

Reference Publication in Literature

Individual volumes in series cover a number of topics from individual writers (e.g., T.S. Eliot) to different genres and national literatures (e.g., Guide to French Poetry Explication). To retrieve titles in the series, (“starting with”) on series for reference publication in literature in the U of T catalogue.

Literary Manuscripts, 17th and 18th Century Poetry from the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

Book Reviews

Book Reviews - Humanities & Social Sciences
Find Criticism of an Author's Work
Find Journal Articles
A Short Guide to Writing about Literature
12th Ed. Barnet, Sylvan, Reid Gilbert and William E. Cain

Promotes the practice of critical reading as well as how to write essays about fiction, poetry, drama and film.

PN81 .B35 2012

Reference and Stacks