English Language and Literature: Biographies
Consult biographical dictionaries to get brief information about people, dates and events. Biographical dictionaries often contain lists of a writer's complete works, as well as lists of related secondary sources and criticism, including book-length biographies.
Two categories of biographical dictionary are broadly useful for literary study. National biographies contain articles concerning historically important residents of a particular country; literary biographies collect the biographies of important writers. You can find specialized biographical dictionaries by doing a subject-heading search for biography in QCAT, e.g.
To determine if the Library owns a book-length biography of a person, perform a subject search in QCAT. Enter [last name, first name], e.g.
You may wish to consult titles that just have the author's name as subject heading as well as those with subdivisions: Biography, Correspondence, Diaries, Family, Interviews.
Another approach to finding biographies in QCAT is to perform a keyword search using the term "biography" (in the subject field) and the name of the person. However, this method will not return a list of all the books that contain biographical information on your subject.
For more sources, see Biographical Resources.
Dictionary of Literary
REF Call Number varies
- A collection of essays on the lives and careers of authors from all eras and genres as well as critical responses to their work. To locate the individual volumes of this multi-volume set, do a title search in QCAT for Dictionary of Literary Biography.
REF Z1224.C59 Contemporary Authors First Revision, Vols. 1-44 (1962-1980)
REF Z1224.C76 Contemporary Authors Original, Vols. 45(1981-)-current
REF Z1224.C592t Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, vols.1(1981)-current
Provides bio-bibliographical information about living and deceased writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, motion pictures, and television.
Initial biographies are published in Contemporary Authors Original. Updated biographies are published in Contemporary Authors New Revision Series.
Use the Contemporary Authors Cumulative Index (REF Z1224 .C76) to locate biographies in all the volumes.
The Feminist Companion to Literature
in English. Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the
REF PN471.F45 1990t
- A 1200-page compendium of biographical sketches for more than 2700 women writing in English, including those from African, Asian, Caribbean, Canadian and other literary traditions. Includes some topical entries and sources for further reading.
An Encyclopedia of British Women
REF PR111.E54 1998
- Biographies and secondary bibliographies are included. Thematic issues and critical reception are discussed.
A Biographical Dictionary of English
Women Writers, 1580–1720
REF PR113.B46 1990t
- Alphabetically arranged by name, provides short biographical entries, as well as lists of anonymous and pseudonymous texts, false ascriptions, and several critical appendices on such topics as Quaker women writers and women in the book trade.
A Dictionary of British and American
Women Writers, 1660–1800
REF PR113 D5 1985
- Brief biographical signed entries which names major publications but provides limited references to critical appraisals.
- Provides illustrated biographical profiles of approximately 75 children's authors and artists discussing the author's career, interests and motivation, among other topics.
Last Updated: 22 August 2013