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English Literature: A Guide to Resources: Specialized Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

This bibliography includes reference titles on English (UK) and Commonwealth literature held in the collections of Olin and Uris Libraries, as well as resources accessible online.

Specialized Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Adonis to Zorro: Oxford Dictionary of Reference and Allusion edited by Andrew Delahunty and Sheila Dignen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. 3rd ed. Print copy at Olin Reference PN 43 D43 2010
Based on an extensive reading program that has identified the most commonly-used allusions. All entries have at least one illustrative citation from a range of source materials.
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
Edinburgh : Brewer’s, 2013. 19th edition. A collection of brief entries for colloquial and proverbial phrases, biographical and mythological references, fictitious characters, titles, etc., giving origin, derivation, or meaning, as appropriate. Much revised over the years by various editors. New editions revise and update the older ones, but older editions remain useful since material changes in the revisions. Print edition in Olin Reference.
Cambridge Guide to English Literature. Stapleton, Michael. New York: Cambridge UP, 1983. Olin Reference PR l9 C17+
A single volume guide to the literature of the English-speaking world. Covering more than a thousand years, it includes the literature of Great Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It also includes the English writing from Ireland and South Africa and contributions from the West Indies and Nigeria since World War II. Entries are for authors, individual works of literature, main characters in novels and plays, relevant historical events and technical literary terms. Illustrated.
Cambridge Guide to Literature in English. Head, Dominic, ed. New York: Cambridge UP, 2006. Olin Reference PR 85 C29 2006+
Not to be confused with the Cambridge Guide listed above, this alphabetically-arranged compendium covers some of the same material, but expands its coverage to Africa, India, and other areas, and aims to include more material on contemporary literary figures. Illustrated. 3rd edition.
Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989- 8 vols. Online in Cambridge Histories Online; also in print at Olin stacks PN86 C17
Contents: v. 1. Classical criticism / edited by George A. Kennedy -- v. 3. The Renaissance / edited by Glyn P. Norton -- v. 4. Eighteenth century / edited by H.B. Nisbet and Claude Rawson -- v. 5. Romanticism / edited by Marshall Brown -- v. 7. Modernism and the new criticism / edited by A. Walton Litz, Louis Menand, and Lawrence Rainey -- v. 8. From formalism to poststructuralism / edited by Raman Selden -- v. 9. Twentieth-century historical, philosophical and psychological perspectives / edited by Christa Knellwolf and Christopher Norris.
Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature, Steven R. Serafin and Valerie Grosvenor Myer, editors. New York: Continuum, 2003. Olin Reference PR19 C66x 2003 +
"...envisioned as a comprehensive survey of the growth and development of literature that is by definition British in scope or origin, including he literatures written in English from the colonial to the postcolonial experience in Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, India, and New Zealand." (Intro). Entries are both topical and biographical, with selected bibliographies added. Includes a historical-literary timeline as well as lists of British monarchs, poets laureate and literary award winners. Indexed.
Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology, 1450 to 2000 by Peter Beal. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2008. Olin Reference Z106.5 G7 B43 2008
Provides definitions and some illustrations of terms related to the study of post-1450 manuscripts in the English-speaking world, including terminology related to physical forms and features, condition, writing instruments, scripts, containers, editing, paleography, postal features and more.
Dictionary of Literary Symbols by Michael Ferber. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2007. Olin Reference PN56 S9 F47 2007+
...centered primarily on Western literature. Covering 175 symbols, entries are complemented by quotations and citations. Alphabetically arranged, words are defined and their uses in literature are explored. Extensively cross-referenced with a list of authors cited and a bibliography. 1999 edition online in ebrary.
Dictionary of Shakespeare.Stanley Wells, with the assistance of James Shaw. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998.
"Compiled by one of the best-known authorities on the Bard's works, this dictionary offers up-to-date information on all aspects of Shakespeare in his own time and on his impact and influence on later ages. It includes entries on the plays and the major characters, on Shakespeare's life and his contemporaries, on actors from Edmund Kean to Peter O'Toole, on theatres and directors, plus comments on Shakespeare by later authors such as Jane Austen, Dr Johnson, and Bernard Levin." [publisher]
Edwardian Fiction: an Oxford Companion Oxford University Press, 1997. Olin Reference PR881 K39x 1997
Contains over a thousand alphabetically arranged entries, including some 800 biographies of major and minor authors. Also includes entries on some 250 works of fiction, complete with plot outlines.
Encyclopedia of British Literature 1660-1789. Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. 3 vols.Olin Reference PR E67 2015
A reference source for all aspects of the poetry, drama, fiction, and literary and cultural criticism produced from the Restoration of the English monarchy to the onset of the French Revolution. Includes coverage of both canonical and lesser-known authors, as well as entries addressing gender, sexuality, and other topics that have previously been underrepresented in traditional scholarship. Alphabetically arranged entries with bibliographies.
Encyclopedia of Catholic Literature, edited by Mary R. Reichardt. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, c2004. 2 vols. Olin Reference PN485 E53 2004
"...covers the vast realm of Catholic literature from its origins to today. Included are alphabetically arranged entries on more than 70 major works from around the world. Special attention is given to women writers and to writers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Included are entries on such authors and works as St. Augustine's Confessions, Catherine of Siena's Dialogue, Dante's The Divine Comedy, Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and Muriel Spark's Memento Mori. Each entry is written by an expert contributor and includes a biography of the writer, a plot summary of a major work, an extended critical discussion, an overview of the work's critical reception, and a selected bibliography. The entries give detailed attention to particular works and explore their relation to Catholic thought. A selected general bibliography concludes the encyclopedia." [publisher]
Encyclopedia of English Renaissance Literature. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. 3 vols. Olin Reference PR411 E53 2012
Covers "the English literary landscape from the early 16th to the mid 17th centuries. Featuring over 400 clear and accessible entries on a wide range of writers and literary forms...as well as a variety of previously under-considered areas, including women writers, writings in manuscript, ballads, cookbooks, and other popular literary forms."(publisher)
Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature. Kathy J. Whitson. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004. Olin Reference PN471 .W455 2004+
"...includes alphabetically arranged entries on roughly 70 women writers whose works are widely read in English, and on some 20 related topics. While some of the writers profiled are widely known, others have not yet received as much attention. And while most of the writers are from England and America, the volume also profiles Chilean, Brazilian, Indian, South African, Australian, French, and German authors. The writers selected are feminist, in that their works have challenged traditional gender roles, explored female oppression, or critiqued patriarchal social structures. In addition to providing biographical information, the entries include interpretative summaries of major works." [publisher]
Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature, edited by Robert T. Lambdin and Laura C. Lambdin. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. Olin Reference PN669 E53x 1998
"A comprehensive guide to medieval literature. While the volume is devoted primarily to the literature of medieval England, its multicultural scope also encompasses Islamic, Mongolian, Celtic, Hispanic, Italian, Russian, and Germanic works. Longer entries treat major authors, entire genres, and important texts, while shorter entries provide valuable contextual information through their coverage of significant kings, religious leaders, artists, historical events, and other topics. Each of the more than 420 entries includes a brief bibliography, and the volume closes with a list of general works for further reading." (publisher)
Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain. Wiley-Blackwell, 2017. Olin Reference PR 260 E53 2017
4 volumes. Contains more than 600 scholarly entries spanning key figures, contexts, and influences in the literatures of Great Britain from the fifth century to the sixteenth. Bibliographies accompany each entry.
Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English. London ; New York : Routledge, 2005. 3 vols. Olin Reference PR9080.A52 E53 2005
From the Introduction: "We use the term 'post-colonial'...to cover all the culture affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonization to the present day...The entries encompass genres, major subjects, and criticial biographies of writers." National and regional literatures in English covered include those of Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the Caribbean, East Africa, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, St. Helena, South Africa, South Central Africa, the South Pacific, and West Africa. Indexed. 1994 edition available online.
The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies. 3 volumes. (Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2016.) Olin Reference PN849.U43 E535 2016 +
A worldwide survey of postcolonial approaches to cultures, literatures, and ideas, including events as recent as "Arab Spring 2011," large topics such as Anglophone Literature worldwide, and entries for major scholars of postcolonial studies.
Encyclopedia of Romantic Literature. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Print copy: 3 vols. Olin Reference PR447 E55 2012
"A three-volume reference work that covers British artistic, literary, and intellectual movements between 1780 and 1830, within the context of European, transatlantic and colonial historical and cultural interaction. Comprises over 275 entries ranging from 1,000 to 6,500 words arranged in A-Z format across three fully cross-referenced volumes. Entries explore genre development in prose, poetry, and drama of the Romantic period, key authors and their works, and key themes." (publisher)
Encyclopedia of the Gothic. Malden, Mass. ; Oxford : Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. 2 vols. Print copy: Olin Reference PN3435 E56 2013+
"Brings together over 200 newly-commissioned essays by leading scholars writing on all aspects of the Gothic as it is currently taught and researched, along with challenging insights into the development of the genre and its impact on contemporary culture. The A-Z entries provide comprehensive coverage of relevant authors, national traditions, critical developments, and notable texts that continue to define, shape, and inform the genre." [publisher]
Encyclopedia of the Novel. Malden, MA; Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
"Arranged in A-Z format, entries explore the history and tradition of the novel in different areas of the world; formal elements of the novel (such as narrative structure, plot, character, and narrative perspective); technical aspects of the genre (such as realism, dialogue, and style); subgenres, including the bildungsroman and the graphic novel; theoretical problems; book history; and the relationship of the novel to other arts and disciplines." [publisher]
Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction. Malden, MA; Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
"Covers British and Irish fiction, American fiction, and World fiction, including major writers and their works; the genres and sub-genres of fiction (including crime fiction, sci fi, chick lit, the noir novel, and the avant garde novel); and the major movements, debates, and rubrics within the field." [publisher]
Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. 4 vols. Olin Reference PR451 E553 2015
This set "comprises over 330 fully cross-referenced entries, combining in-depth omnibus essays exploring major topics, including the novel, plays, poetry, and global Victorian studies, alongside succinct articles on themes such as cosmopolitanism, journalism, race, sexuality, and reading." (publisher)
Literary History of England. Baugh, Albert C., ed., 2nd ed. New York: Appleton, 1967.  Olin Reference PR 83 B34 1967 (also Library Annex)
A comprehensive and scholarly history of the literature of England. Arranged by period and genre, with numerous footnotes indicating standard editions and an extensive bibliographical supplement listing, by chapter and page, the most important books and articles in which the reader may pursue further the writings of authors discussed.
Oxford Companion to English Literature. Dinah Birch, ed. 7th ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 2009. Olin Reference PR 19 O94 2009+
Available online and in print. Provides brief articles on authors and literary works from all periods of English literature are arranged alphabetically in this comprehensive single volume handbook.Contains extensive cross-references. Appendices include a chronology of English literature, and lists of poets laureate and major literary award winners.
New Companion to the Literature of Wales. Meic Stephens, ed., Cardiff : University of Wales Press, 1998. Olin Reference PB 2206 O98 1998
Earlier edition published as Oxford companion to the literature of Wales. A general introduction to the literature of Wales from the sixth century to the present day. Includes a chronology of the history of Wales and other historical information. Includes alphabetically arranged entries with an emphasis on biographical and bibliographical details of the selected works of poets, editors, almanackers and other "men of letters whose writing forms the corpus of the country's literature."
Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2006. 5 vols. Olin Reference PR19 O95 2006
"Covers the entire history of British literature from the seventh century to the present, focusing on the writers and the major texts of what are now the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. In five hundred substantial essays written by major scholars, the Encyclopedia of British Literature includes biographies of nearly four hundred individual authors and a hundred topical essays with detailed analyses of particular themes, movements, genres, and institutions whose impact upon the writing or the reading of literature was significant." (publisher) Table of contents
Oxford English Dictionary.
The OED presents in alphabetical series the words that have formed the English vocabulary from the time of the earliest records down to the present day, with all the relevant facts concerning their form, sense-history, pronunciation, and etymology. It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectical usage and slang. This edition contains the complete A to Z sequence of the Second Edition, its three-volume Additions Series, and also draft material from the revision programme, which represents the latest progress towards the Third Edition. Second edition available in print at Olin Reference PE1625 M98 1989
Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to Great Britain and Ireland. Dorothy Eagle and Hilary Carnell, comp. and ed. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992. Olin Reference PR lO9 E12 1992+
"The main part of the book consists of entries for places in Great Britain and Ireland with literary associations, each headword being followed by a grid reference to the maps at the end...the place names are arranged in alphabetical order and refer to towns, villages, mansions, cottages, mountains, lakes, and rivers: places where writers have been born, educated, and buried, where they lived and worked; and where they met and talked and struck sparks off each other." (Preface)Includes an author index and many illustrations and photographs. Fictitious names of real places are entered as cross-references.
Post-Colonial Studies: the Essential Glossary. Thieme, John. London: Arnold, 2003. Olin Reference JV22 T45x 2003
Alphabetically arranged guide to terms ("counter discourse"), people ("Buchi Emecheta"), concepts ("nationalism") and other topics found in postcolonial studies across the disciplines. Includes bibliography.
Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Roland Greene, editor in chief. Princeton: Princeton University Press, c2012. 4th ed. Print copies: Olin Reference PN1021 N39 2012+ c.2; also in Olin Grad & Faculty Study Room (5th floor) PN 1021 N39 2012+;
A revised and updated version of the major reference work for poetry. Compiled by an entirely new team of editors, this first new edition in almost twenty years reflects recent changes in literary and cultural studies, providing up-to-date coverage and giving greater attention to the international aspects of poetry, all while preserving the best of the previous volumes. [publisher] 1993 edition available online in Literature Online.

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Charles Dickens - Scenes in hi... Digital ID: 1222890. New York Public Library