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English Literature: Further sources

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

Series of books

Some series, such as the Arden new Cambridge and Shakespeare editions, have lengthy and very useful introductions.

Arden Shakespeare / New Cambridge Shakespeare / Oxford Shakespeare
Reputable critical editions of Shakespeare’s texts with scholarly annotations, recommended by the School of English and American Literature

Blackwell companions to literature and culture
Various Call Numbers
A well established series of critical works, covering major themes and genres in literature.

Cambridge Companions
Introductions to major writers, topics and periods.
Available online, many are available in print in the Library too. Search the Enterprise catalogue for "cambridge companions" to find these. 

Early English Text Society series
A useful series for scholarly editions of primary texts

Middle English texts
A useful series for scholarly editions of primary texts

Oxford English literary history
Important series of historical and critical writing covering different literary periods

Renaissance English Text Society series
Various Call Numbers

Conference papers

Conference papers are published in a variety of ways - they may be published as a book, or as a special issue or supplement to a journal. Some may not be published at all!

If published promptly they can you give you the latest information on research in your field.

See our guide to finding conference papers for details of specialist sources for finding this type of information.


Newspapers can be a good source for the latest developments in a field and for current opinion on controversial topics.

We have online access to a number of current and archive newspaper issues. For further information and links go to our Finding newspapers page.


Reading University theses and dissertations

The Library receives a copy of all theses accepted for the degrees of PhD and MPhil by the University. All theses held by the Library can be found on the Enterprise catalogue. Recently submitted theses might also be available to download from the University's Institutional Repository, CentAUR.

Masters theses can usually be consulted in the relevant school or department.

Finding theses from other institutions

There are a number of specialist sources for finding theses produced at other institutions around the world. Many more are becoming available online making it much easier to get the full-text. For more information see our guide to finding theses.

See our guide to finding theses for more information:

English Literature Special Collections and Archives

All of these collections are held at the University's Special Collections Service on Redlands Road. For more information about viewing these collections see the Special Collections website. 

The Children's Collection
The Children's Collection is particularly strong in 19th and early 20th century children's literature. The Catalogue of the collection of children's books, 1617-1939, in the University of Reading is available at 028.52-CAI.

The Beckett Collection
The Beckett Collection is a substantial collection of original manuscripts, books and other material relating to Samuel Beckett. Much of the collection was donated by Beckett himself before his death.

Records of British publishing and printing
The Records of British publishing and printing is made up of two sections: correspondence and other material from the archives of a number of prominent publishing houses; and the Records of Contemporary Writing, consisting of original manuscripts of a wide range of writers - many of them in the first rank - from the 1890s to date.

The Finzi Book Room Collection
The Finzi Book Room Collection consists of the literature collection of the English composer Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). There are about 6,000 printed volumes. English poetry, especially that written during the collector's lifetime, is a particular strength. The collection is now shelved with the other rare book collections in the closed access store at the Special Collections Services at Redlands Road.

Other collections relating to English literature
The University also holds the Shelley Collection of Geoffrey Matthews, the internationally respected Shelley scholar, and the Wain Collection, comprising the complete published output of the poet, critic and novelist John Wain. Further information about these collections and access arrangements is available on the Special Collections website.

The Library of the Museum of English Rural Life contains some interesting examples of rural literature.

Other archives and rare book collections

Beckett, Books and Biscuits: The Special Collections Blog

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