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Information Services

English Literature

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


Edinburgh University Library is proud to have supported the learning, teaching and research of the oldest department of English Literature in the world for nearly 250 years. The collections in English Literature, from medieval manuscripts to post-colonial literatures in English in various formats, are extensive and diverse. Primary and secondary source materials continue to be collected in support of current academic activities. Most of these physical collections are located in the Main Library, George Square.

The Library provides access to a significant amount of online resources for English Literature in the form of bibliographies, citation indexes, e-books, e-journals, digital manuscripts, book reviews, newspapers, dissertations and theses, audio-visual materials, conference proceedings and more, which can be accessed by University staff and students at any time on and off campus.

The information below provides a general introduction to the physical collections. Information on electronic resources for English Literature is available in the Databases section of this guide.


Main LibraryMain collections

The Main Library holds the majority of physical collections for English Literature.

Books relating to English Literature are mostly classified under PR (e.g. PR5484 Ste.) which are located on the 3rd floor. Older lending collections that are classified in the Dewey decimal scheme (e.g. .82389 Ste.) are located on the 4th floor.

Bound, printed journals are located on the 4th floor. Back runs of some journals are stored in the University Collections Facility (UCF). Information on how to request material from UCF can be found in the list of useful links below.

Reference works (such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias and bibliographies) and DVDs are classified in the LC scheme and interfiled with the general LC lending stock on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

Manuscripts, rare books and archives are held in the Centre for Research Collections (CRC). See information about CRC below.

Printed exam papers up to academic year 2004/2005 are stored in the University Collections Facility and can be requested from there. Information on how to request material from UCF can be found in the list of useful links below. However, the majority of degree examination papers from the following academic years are available online:

Other useful links:

HUB Collection

The High Use Books (HUB) collection, located on the ground floor of the Main Library, consists of HUB Reserve (3 hour loan) and HUB Short Loan (7 day loan) books as well as offprints (photo copies of course reading material).

Undergraduate course books on Reserve and Short Loan for English Literature are located in this collection.

Centre for Research Collections

The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) houses the University Library’s Special Collections which include historical books, manuscripts, archives and microfilms that English Literature researchers and students may find useful. The main CRC facilities are on the 6th floor of the Main Library.

Some named collections in the CRC are:

How to find items in your reading list

Use DiscoverEd to search for books, journals, journal articles, DVDs and other physical and electronic items. Use your University Login to sign into your account and manage loans and requests.


Use Resource Lists to find your course reading lists. Lookup reading lists by list title, course title, course code, course instructors. Use the 'Subject' dropdown selection list to browse all the Resource Lists in your subject area such as 'English Literature' (displaying only the first 100 matching lists).

     Resource lists

     Information for Students

Please note that not all the courses at the University use Resource Lists.

Accessing material beyond the Library collections

If the library does not have what you want then there are several ways of getting access to the material:

The National Library of Scotland

Conveniently located within ten minutes' walk of the University's Main Library, the National Library of Scotland (NLS) holds huge collections of primary and secondary source matierials relating to English literature.

The Inter-Library Loan (ILL) Service

This allows you to request material either held at distant university library sites including the  University Collections Facility, or material not held by the university. 

Book Recommendations

If you are unable to find the book that you need for your studies then use the Student Request a Book (RaB) service to recommend a purchase.

Visit another library

It may be possible (and sometimes quicker) to visit another library in the UK to get access to the item you require. Some reciprocal schemes and agreements allow our staff and students access to some other libraries.

Academic Support Librarian

Highlights of Library collections on English Literature

Romeo and Juliet. Second quarto, 1599

published during Shakespeare's lifetime - which was presented to the University by the poet William Drummond in 1626. Special Collections   De.3.73*  

Related subject guides

Subject Guides from other disciplines may offer useful information, depending on the area of your research interest.