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English, Renaissance Literature Guide

Find Articles

When searching for journal articles, an indexing and abstracting database or print index is usually the best place to begin. Below are some recommended print indexes and databases for research in English Literature. For other databases, check the Indexes and Abstracts page of the library website.

Key Resources

  • Iter - Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
    A bibliography covering the period 400-1700. Citations are drawn from journals, books, conference proceedings, festschriften, encyclopedias and exhibition catalogues.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Literature Online
    Literature Online offers full text access to rare and inacessible works, up-to-date, reference resources, in addition to the full text of poetry, drama, and prose fiction from the seventh century to the present day. Materials are included from almost every period and genre of English literature as well as many works by 20th century authors. Contemporary criticism is available through the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL).
    Unlimited simultaneous users.

Additional Resources

  • JSTOR Archival Collection
    JSTOR provides access to back issues of a variety of scholarly journals. UNB Libraries currently subscribes to the Arts & Sciences (I through X) collections, along with the Life Sciences and Ireland collections.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Project Muse
    "Project MUSE covers the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, and many others." UNB subscribes to almost 400 eJournals, and provides access to select Open Access eBooks.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.

You can view a list of electronic journals on topics related to the Renaissance that are held by UNB Libraries here.


Reference Sources

This guide contains resources about the literature of the Early Modern Period in Great Britain (about 1500-1800) with a particular focus on the literature of the English Renaissance (1485-1603).

If you are looking for resources that are specifically about the works of William Shakespeare, please see the the Shakespeare subject guide.

When researching a new topic, it is often necessary to get an overview, explanations of unfamiliar terms, or brief factual information. The print and electronic resources listed below include selected reference materials (dictionaries, encyclopaedias, handbooks, guides, and standards). To find additional reference materials, check Quest (the library catalogue) or our Reference Materials database.

Key Resources

  • Crowell's handbook of Elizabethan & Stuart literature [HIL-REF PR19 .R8 1975]
  • Early English drama, Everyman to 1580 : a reference guide [HIL-REF PR641 .W44 1986]
  • Elizabethan dramatists [HIL-REF PN41 .D5 vol.62]
  • Biographical dictionary of Renaissance poets and dramatists, 1520-1650, A [HIL-REF PR421 .S33 1983]
  • Biographical dictionary of English women writers, 1580-1720, A [HIL-REF PR113 .B46 1990]

    Editors Bell (Open University), Parfitt, and Shepherd (both at University of Nottingham) have framed standard biographical data with an introduction and critical appendixes that provide historical and cultural background for the period. Based on much of the same source material as Hilda L. Smith, Women and the Literature of the Seventeenth Century (CH, Oct'90), this work overlaps, to some degree, both Smith and A Dictionary of British and American Women Writers, 1600-1800, ed. by Janet Todd (CH, Jun'85). Entries include patronym, places of birth and residence, occupation, religion, husband's name and occupation, and references to works written. Sources are not cited as they are in Smith; coverage starts and ends earlier than Todd's, and duplicate entries are not so extensive. This compilation on more than 550 English women writers is useful for locating information on those women not included elsewhere and for the unique addition of critical essays on prophetic writing, Quaker women, petitions, letters, the role of men as "gatekeepers," and women and publishing. Recommended for academic libraries with comprehensive women's studies reference collections. From: Syndetics Solutions, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.

  • British prose writers of the early seventeenth century [HIL-REF PN41 .D5 vol.151]

    The strength of this volume comes from the quality of the 33 individual author entries, among them Lancelot Andrewes, Francis Bacon, John Donne, John Milton, and Izaak Walton. Each section, written by a specialist, includes a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, plus a summary and analytical essay regarding the individual author. These essays vary in length from a few pages to 10 or more, depending on the importance of the figure. A considerable number of black-and-white illustrations, mostly of the authors' original works, enhance the volume. Obviously this compilation could not include every prose writer of the early 17th century, but a few individuals, such as Chillingworth, wrote enough during the period and are important enough to be included, perhaps in a summary article on minor writers. Still, as a one-volume introduction, this book does provide the quick overview of biographical information and of the literary, religious, and political background that serious students would need. Upper-division through faculty. From: Syndetics Solutions, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.

  • Dictionary of literary-rhetorical conventions of the English Renaissance [HIL-REF PR531 .D6 1982]
  • English fiction, 1660-1800 : a guide to information sources [multiple locations HIL-REF ZPR851 .B43]
  • English poetry, 1660-1800 : a guide to information sources [HIL-REF PR551 .M44]
  • English prose, prose fiction, and criticism to 1660 : a guide to information sources [HIL-REF PR767 .H4]

Additional Resources


Find Books

To search for books at UNB Libraries, first use the library's online catalogue, Quest. Quest contains materials held at the Harriet Irving, Science and Forestry, Engineering, and Law libraries, as well as the Ward Chipman Library in Saint John. Course reserves are also available via Quest's Reserve Desk.

Bibliographies list publications that have been written about a particular subject, including books, journals, government publications, etc. Annotated bibliographies provide concise summaries of what has been published in a given area.

  • English Renaissance rhetoric and poetics: a systematic bibliography of primary and secondary sources
    PE1403 .P57 1995
  • Bibliography and index of English verse in manuscript, 1501-1558
    PR521 .R55 1992
  • Bibliography and index of English verse printed 1476-1588
    PR531 .R56 1989
  • Critical analyses in English renaissance drama: a bibliographic guide
    PR651 .S35 1991
  • Elizabethan poetry: a bibliography and first-line index of English verse, 1559-1603
    PR531 .M28 2004 vols. 1-3
  • English religious poetry printed 1477-1640: a chronological bibliography with indexes
    PR535 .R4 D82 1996
  • The predecessors of Shakespeare: a survey and bibliography of recent studies in English Renaissance drama
    PR651 .L632


Find Internet Sites

While there is a wealth of information freely available on the internet, not all sites are created equal. Careful evaluation is a critical part of doing research on the Internet. Below are some recommended sites:


Citing Your Sources

Accurate, properly formatted footnotes, reading lists, and bibliographies are hallmarks of good academic research. Through citing, you acknowledge the source of any ideas you mention in your writing, document your research, and provide the information your readers need to track down your sources.

Numerous citation styles exist, and each specifies what elements are required (title, author, journal name, etc.) and how the citation should be formatted. The standard citation style for English Literature is MLA, but your instructor may require or recommend that you use another. Consult your course syllabus or check with your instructor to be sure of using the correct citation style for your assignment.


Primary Sources

These primary sources are documents such as letters, poems, or books that are from (rather than about) the Early Modern period. Using primary sources can help you learn more about the author(s) you are researching and/or develop a historical context for your literary analysis.

Key Resources

  • Early English Books Online (EEBO via ProQuest)

    EEBO is based on the microfilm collections curated by the Ann Arbor publisher Eugene B. Power (1905-1993). The founder of what became University Microfilms International or UMI, Power’s first foreign project established the microfilming operation at the British Museum in 1942 and, since then, more than 200 libraries worldwide have contributed to the microfilm collection.

    Following its digital launch in 1998, Early English Books Online now contains page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America, as well as works in English printed elsewhere between 1473 and 1700.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.

  • English Poetry Database
    The English Poetry Database "contains poems in English from Anglo-Saxon times to the end of the nineteenth century by writers from the British Isles. The database covers the works of 1,257 named poets and many items by different anonymous hands."
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Past Masters (Intelex)
    InteLex Past Masters is comprised of 100+ full-text humanities and sciences databases that make available cohesive collections of editions, in both original language and in English translation, of seminal figures in the humanities and sciences.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries
    British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries spans more than 400 years of personal writings, bringing together the voices of women from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. This database allows researchers to view history in the context of women’s thoughts – their struggles, achievements, passions, pursuits, and desires.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.

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