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English Literature

This guide provides a general introduction to Library and information resources for the study of literature in English.

Dictionaries, companions, encyclopedias

Johnson's English Dictionary

A Dictionary of the English Language, written by Samuel Johnson and published in 1755, has special significance in the history of the English language and literature. It is often referred to as Johnson's Dictionary.

Printed version

The Centre for Research Collections in the Main Library holds a copy of the 2-volume set of the first edition published in 1755:

Johnson, Samuel. A Dictionary of the English Language: in which the words are deduced from their originals: and illustrated in their different significations : by examples from the best writers : to which are prefixed, a History of the Language, and an English Grammar. Printed by W. Strahan, for J. and P. Knapton; T. and T. Longman, C. Hitch and L. Hawes, A. Millar; and R. and J. Dodsley, 1755.

Scanned version

The digitised image version of Johnson's Dictionary is available via Eighteenth Century Collections Online, or click here to follow the link in DiscoverEd.

Transcribed version

You can also access a transcribed version at

A Dictionary of the English Language: a digital edition of the 1775 classic by Samuel Johnson

Gale Reference Complete - Literature

The following resources within Gale Reference Complete provides access to hundreds of reference works on world literature including British and American literature:

The resource contains 63 series titles, several hundred volumes of reference works on literature, including multi-volume reference works on British and American authors, Nobel Prize Laureates, and on literary genres such as novels, poetry, drama and short stories.  The large series include Contemporary Authors Series, Vol. 206 (2003) - 421 (2019), Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Vol. 114 (2003) - 334 (2019), World Literature and Its Times: Profiles of Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events That Influenced Them Vol. 1 - 8 which examine the relationship between the political/social climate during which books were written and the works themselves.