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Comparative Literature: A Guide to Library Resources: Biographical Sources

This guide is selective and limited to items held by the Cornell University Library, with an emphasis on those resources held in the Reference collections of Olin, Kroch, and Uris Libraries

Biographical Sources

Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1978- . Uris Library Willis Room, PS 129 D55; text only available online in Literature Resource Center (LRC)
An on-going set of volumes designed to provide biographic, bibliographic, and critical material on major writers of America and Great Britain as well as some writers of Canada, France and Germany. Each volume is arranged alphabetically by the writers covered. There are numerous portraits and often there are appendices containing special information. A list of further reading concludes each volume. An index to all volumes appears at the end of each latest volume.
Dizionario Letterario Bompiani degli Autori de Tutti i Tempi e di Tutte le Letterature. 4 v. Milan: Bompiani, 1956-57. Olin stacks PN 466 D62
A companion to the Dizionario Letterario Bompiani delle Opere e dei Personaggi di Tutti i Tempi e di Tutte le Letterature described above, this four-volume set contains biographical and critical sketches of nearly 9,000 authors from all periods and locales, with listings of primary -- but not secondary -- sources. Like its parent work, it is also profusely illustrated, covering art and music in addition to literature. There is also a French version, Dictionnaire Biographique des Auteurs. 2nd. ed., Paris: Societe d'Edition de Dictionnaires et Encyclopedies, 1964, (Olin stacks PN 466 D625 1964+) which is slightly different in content.
Index to Literary Biography. 2 vols. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1975. Plus suppl. 1983. Olin stacks PN 524 H38
A quick pointer to biographical information on approximately 68,000 authors from antiquity to the present. Each entry provides brief biographical facts and then a reference to the one source judged to be the best place to begin a study of the author.
Multicultural Writers Since 1945: an A-to-Z Guide Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004. Olin Reference PN452 M88 2004+
Multicultural authors are defined as "those who voluntarily have lived in a culture other than their own or were wrenched from one culture into another and who have written about their experiences." Includes more than 100 alphabetically arranged entries with bibliographies.
Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature. Kunitz, Stanley I. and Howard Haycraft, eds. New York: Wilson, 1942. 1st supplement, 1961. Olin Reference PN 771 K96+
Biographical sketches of writers of all nations whose books are familiar to readers of English. Entries contain some bio-criticism and personal information supplied by the biographee. Brief bibliography of books by and about the author appended. Altogether, Twentieth Century Authors and its supplement contain information on 2,250 authors, most with accompanying portraits.
Who's Who in Twentieth-Century Literature. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976. Olin stacks PN 451 S52
Brief descriptions of over 500 authors, including foreign as well as British and American authors. The first five entries, for example, refer to a Nigerian novelist, a Dutch poet, and a Hungarian poet and journalist as well as to two American writers. A short index lists the names of literary movements and of authors who have not been given a separate entry but who are mentioned in concession with those who have.
World authors, 1970-1975. Edited by John Wakeman. New York : Wilson, 1980. Olin Ref + PN771 W14 1980
___________, 1975-1980. New York: Wilson, 1985. Olin Ref + PN771 W14 1985
___________, 1980-1985. New York: Wilson, 1991. Olin Ref + PN771 W14 1991
Follows the general plan of Kunitz's and Haycraft's Twentieth Century Authors (described above), adding authors who achieved prominence since 1950 as well as some who were omitted from the earlier volumes. Each entry provides a biographical sketch, authors' statements, bibliographies of both primary and secondary texts, and some measure of critical commentary.

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