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English Literature: Books

A guide to finding information in English literature. Includes links to key resources and sources of help.

To find out if a specific book is in the Library you just need to check the Enterprise catalogue (search box below). Enter the author's surname and one or two words from the title:

For example: Lodge art fiction

You can also search Enterprise for a topic, to find related books.

If the book that you need is only available in the University Library, please contact Kim to find out if an electronic version can be purchased or accessed. We may be able to get hold of books through a range of difference routes, but this will depend on the book - so please get in touch to ask if you need a book that you cannot read online: 

Finding books

Finding printed books and e-books

Search the Enterprise catalogue to find specific books or books on a topic.


Finding online book chapters

To find online book chapters on a topic search the Summon discovery service:

Borrowing print items

You may request most items in the Library to be collected for you to borrow. Request an item online and we will email to let you know when it is ready to collect.

You may browse the books on the shelves and borrow them yourself using the Self-service Points on the Ground floor. Sanitiser and cleaning materials will be available, please use these to clean the Self-service Point screen before and after use. 

If you can't find the book you need, please place a hold via the Click & Collect service and we will find it for you. 

You are encouraged to wear a face covering (unless exempt) whilst using any public area in the building. 

Library staff will be working on the floors to reshelve books throughout the day.

You can also browse the shelves virtually on the Enterprise catalogue.

Please return any items you've borrowed from the Library via the Book sorter on the Ground Floor of the Library. Alternatively you may return books in the external Book Drop, located to the right of the main Library entrance. 

Closed Access collections will take place at 14:00 each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Off-site Store collections take place on Thursday each week. You will receive an email when your items are ready to collect - loanable items can be collected from the Click & Collect area, on the North side of the building (Palmer quad opposite the Palmer and Carrington buildings.) Reference only items need to be consulted in the Library and can be collected from the Welcome Desk.

You are expected to wear a face covering (unless exempt) whilst using any public area in the library building.

Key locations

4th Floor

800 Literature
801 General literary theory and criticism
808 Literary composition

History and criticism of literature in general

810 American literature (in English)
811 American poetry
812 American drama
813 American fiction
814 American essays
817 American satire and humour

Canadian literature in English

820 English literature
821 English poetry
822 English drama
823 English fiction
824 English essays
827 English satire and humour
828.99 Other literatures in English (eg African, Australian)

Anglo-Saxon and Old English literature

830-869.9 Other literatures
870-880 Classical literature

Each of the main divisions in the 820s is further subdivided into historical periods, which are indicated by the number after the decimal point:

.1       Early English, 1066-1400
.2       Pre-Elizabethan, 1400-1558
.3       Elizabethan, 1558-1625
.4       Post-Elizabethan, 1625-1702
.5       Queen Anne, 1702-1745
.6       Later 18th century, 1745-1800
.7       Early 19th century, 1800-1837
.8       Victorian, 1837-1900
.9       20th century in general
.912   Early 20th century, 1900-1945
.914   Later 20th century, 1945-
.92     21st Century

The subject number plus a subdivision represents a type of literature in a specific period, eg:

821.3  Elizabethan poetry
823.8  Victorian fiction

The same principle applies to American (and other) literature, although the actual subdivisions are different.

Call numbers for selected topics

African literature in English 828.996
American drama: as text 812
American drama: as theatre 792.0973
American essays 814
American fiction 813
American poetry 811
Anglo-Saxon literature 829
Australian literature 828.9994

Beowulf 829.3

Canadian literature in English 819
Caribbean literature in English 828.99729
Chaucer 821.17
Children's literature 809.89282
Cinema 791.43
Contemporary American fiction 813.6
Contemporary English fiction 823.92
Criticism of literature in general 809

Dictionaries of literary terms 803
Dictionaries of quotations 808.88

Eighteenth-century drama 822.5
Eighteenth-century literature 820.905
Eighteenth-century poetry 821.5
Elizabethan drama 822.3
Elizabethan literature 820.903
Elizabethan poetry 821.3
English drama: as text 822
English drama: as theatre 792.0942
English essays 824
English fiction 823
English poetry 821

Feminist literary criticism 801.9
Film 791.43

Graphic novels 741.5
Graphic novels : History and criticism 741.59

History of literature in general 809
Holocaust literature 809.93358405318

Latin American literature / Spanish American literature 868.998

Literary criticism: theory 801.9
Literary movements 809.91

Medieval drama 822.1
Medieval literature 820.901
Medieval poetry 821.1
Modernism literature 809.91

New Zealand literature 828.9993
Nineteenth-century novel 823.8

Old English literature 829

Postcolonial literature/Commonwealth literature : History and criticism  828.9909

Renaissance drama 822.2-822.3
Renaissance literature 820.902-820.903
Renaissance poetry 821.2-821.3
Restoration drama 822.4
Romanticism: literature 809.91

Shakespeare 822.33

Theatre 792

Utopian literature : History and criticism 809.93372

Victorian poetry 821.8
Victorian fiction 823.8

West Indian literature 828.99729

Finding e-books

We have purchased thousands of e-books which you can read on or off-campus. 

So, if you're away from campus... or all the print copies of the book you want are out on loan... or you've reached your limit on the number of books you can borrow at any one time - it's worth checking to see if there's an e-copy. 

E-books are available to you 24/7 from any device which is connected to the internet, so can be used anytime and anywhere.

There will be direct links to e-books in your online reading lists, or you may find them yourself by searching the Library catalogue, Enterprise.

Much more information about how to find and access our e-books is available from the guide below: 

View our brief video for an intro to finding ebooks:

If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on Stream - view the Finding an e-book using Enterprise video on Stream (University username and password required)

Your reading lists are available online via the Blackboard course for your module. Your lists will:

  • list all recommended print and online resources
  • show you if printed copies are available to borrow
  • include links to articles, e-books, e-book chapters, websites and videos
  • give access to scanned extracts of key readings

Watch this short video to find out more about using your online reading list.

Search the Enterprise catalogue for the book or topic you need and once you are viewing your results, limit them using the Online and Book filters on the left-hand side.

Enterprise search filters

Your results should now only include e-books. To read the e-book, follow the 'Click here for online access' link and enter your university username and password.

Search Enterprise now using the box below:

Watch our short videos on searching the catalogue, finding a book and borrowing it

If you are unable to view these videos on YouTube they are also available on Stream via the links below (University login required):

Most of our e-books can also be found in Summon, the Library’s discovery service. Using Summon will give you more results, as it is often able to search for your words at chapter-level.

To only see e-books in your results list, select the Publication Type E-book from the limits on the left-hand side. 

Summon e-book search filter

You will need to refine your search even further to get results which are most relevant to you and the topic you are searching for. Look at the Library’s guide on Summon for search tips, including how to limit your results.

Search Summon using the box below (it is already set up to limit to books):

Getting books not held at Reading

Our Inter-Library Loans service can get books not held at Reading from other libraries (usually from the British Library).

For more information see our webpages: