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Sources of Literary Biography

Subject Headings

Search for the author as subject, then look for subheadings such as these:

Austen Jane 1775 1817 Biography

Austen Jane 1775 1817 Homes and Haunts

Austen Jane 1775 1817 Family

Or browse the shelf where the author's works and books about that author are located.


Literature Online (LION)

This database contains literary biographies in addition to indexing of literary criticism published in journals and books.  Search under the "Authors" heading for biographical material.

MLA Bibliography

Primarily indexes literary criticism in journals, books and dissertations, but some of these articles have biographical and contextual content as well.

Project Muse

Collection of journals published by many scholarly presses.  Some journals are interdisciplinary and some articles, although primarily critical rather than biographical in nature, may contain biographical material and helpful bibliographies.

Reference Works

Reference works, such as biographical dictionaries, can be helpful starting points for obtaining basic biographies, chronologies, bibliographies and historical context.  These books are found on the reference shelves, and many of them are multi-volume sets.  The following are examples of some of the titles available, but a librarian can help you find more.

  • Dictionary of Literary Biography   PN451.D52
    • Check the index at the back of the last volume to find which volumes have sections on a specific author.
  • British Writers  PR85.B688
  • American Writers PS129.A55
  • World Literature and Its Times (call number varies by geographical area and time period covered)
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography DA28.D6
    • British authors only

Library Catalogs

  • Vassar College Library
  • Connect New York (CNY)
    • check here for books that are already checked out and books Vassar doesn't own
  • WorldCat (ILL)
    • check here for books not available through CNY and to find out if an author's papers are housed in an archive


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