This page contains the following sections:
- General (literary encyclopedias, biographies and dictionaries);
- Histories of literatures in English.
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Boston: Thomson. Available in various editions. Reliable entries on traditional elements of literary analysis (e.g. figures of speech).
Baldick, Chris. The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Available through Oxford Reference.
Coyle, Martin, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Literature and Criticism. Routledge, 2003. Includes chapters on major periods of literature and the principal schools of critical theory.
Furniss, Tom, and Michael Bath. Reading Poetry: An Introduction. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1996. Ignore the section on meter. Otherwise this is an excellent introduction to poetry.
France, Peter. The Oxford Guide to Literature in Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. A good place to begin if you want to find the best editions of works translated into English.
Kastan, Davis Scott, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. 5 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Overview of major authors and works. A good starting point.
Preminger, Alex, and T. V. F. Brogan, eds. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 3rd ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Access via Literature Online (LION). Detailed coverage of everything to do with poetry. An advanced reference work. The new 4th edition is available in paper form in the library: Roland Greene, and Stephen Cushman, eds. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 4th ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.
American National Biography. Biographies of all major US writers.
Literature Online (LION): A broad spectrum of primary texts, reference works and secondary texts. This database includes a lot of twentieth-century poetry that is still in copyright and not available elsewhere.
The Literary Encyclopedia. Quick information about literatures in English and other languages. Includes entries on authors and works that have only recently received any critical attention.
Oxford Bibliographies. Annotated research guides for English and American literature, medieval studies and Renaissance studies. Available through the library’s databases.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB). Biographies of all the major English writers.
Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The comprehensive dictionary of the English language. It is not a learner’s dictionary as it is very detailed, however, it should always be used for literature essays as it tells you what words meant in previous centuries.
Oxford Handbooks Online: Includes handbooks on writers and genres from Wordsworth to Science Fiction.
Oxford Reference. The literature section includes:
- The Oxford Companion to American Literature;
- The Oxford Companion to English Literature;
- The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms;
- Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance;
- The Oxford Companion to American Theatre.
Scribner Writers Online Series. Bio-critical essays on the lives and works of more than 1,400 important authors.
2. HISTORY OF LITERATURES IN ENGLISH
Carter, Ronald, and John McRae. The Routledge History of Literature in English: Britain and Ireland. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2001. An overview of the history of English literature useful for getting a sense of the different literary periods.
Cox, Micheal. The Oxford Chronology of English Literature. Lists the major works of literature on a year by year basis. This is available in paper, on CD-ROM and online through the library catalogue.
Poplawski, Paul. English Literature in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. An overview of the history of English literature useful for getting a sense of the different literary periods.
Cambridge Histories Online via Cambridge Core includes the following:
- The Cambridge History of African-American Literature;
- The Cambridge History of American Literature (6 vols);
- The Cambridge History of Australian Literature;
- The Cambridge History of British Theatre (3 vols);
- The Cambridge History of Canadian Literature;
- The Cambridge History of English Poetry;
- The Cambridge History of the English Language (6 vols);
- volumes on specific English literary periods (e.g. Romanticism).