Biographical Dictionaries

Biographical dictionaries offer basic information about the life, career, and accomplishments of individuals. Those that include living persons will sometimes provide an address or other contact information. Accuracy and reliability vary widely among these works, especially those that rely on information supplied by biographees.

There is no adequate evaluative guide to the hundreds of biographical dictionaries that compete for space on library shelves. Guide to Reference (B60) and vol. 2 of The New Walford Guide to Reference Resources (B65) describe—but too rarely compare or evaluate—major current and retrospective ones. For dictionaries published since c. 1965, Bohdan S. Wynar, ed., ARBA Guide to Biographical Dictionaries (Littleton: Libs. Unlimited, 1986; 444 pp.), and Robert L. Wick and Terry Ann Mood, eds., ARBA Guide to Biographical Resources, 1986–1997 (Englewood: Libs. Unlimited, 1998; 604 pp.), offer some guidance. Both are composed largely of entries from American Reference Books Annual (K745); neither selection nor evaluation is as rigorous as it should be (especially in the 1986 volume), and 1986–1997 includes in the literature section a number of works that are only marginally biographical resources.



Biography and Genealogy Master Index. InfoTrac. Gale-Cengage, n.d. 12 Sept. 2014. <>. Updated twice a year.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index: A Consolidated Index to More than 3,200,000 Biographical Sketches in over 350 Current and Retrospective Biographical Dictionaries (BGMI). Ed. Miranda C. Herbert and Barbara McNeil. 2nd ed. 8 vols. Detroit: Gale-Cengage, 1980. Gale Biographical Index Ser. 1. Annual supplements, with quinquennial cumulations. Z5305.U5 B56 [CT214] 920′.073.

A name index to entries in a wide variety of popular and scholarly English-language biographical dictionaries, most of which are regularly updated compilations published in the United States, along with some collections of excerpts from literary criticism, general indexes, and subject encyclopedias. As of 2014, more than 17,000,000 citations from over 2,000 publications covering more than 5,000,000 people, living and dead, the majority of whom are American or British. Users can search the database from two screens: a basic name search and the Advanced Search (with fields for name, prefix or suffix, printed source, and full-text keyword; all searches can be limited by year of birth and year of death and to entries with portraits). An entry provides name, birth and death dates, and a list of dictionaries (the online version provides a full bibliographical citation; the print version offers a sometimes daunting mass of codes). Records can be printed or e-mailed. Since variations in the form and spelling of names and discrepancies in dates are not edited for consistency, numerous individuals have several entries; thus users of either the print or electronic version must be certain to check all variant spellings, discrepancies in birth and death dates, and combinations of prename, middle name, initials, and surname. Accessibility would be improved by some judicious editing, and the Master Index omits some of the major retrospective works (such as Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [M1425] and the main volumes of Dictionary of National Biography [M1425a]), while including several works that hardly qualify as biographical compendia (but are published by Gale). But it is a valuable, time-saving source for determining in which of the numerous general and specialized biographical dictionaries an individual would be found. Coverage of literary figures is especially strong. Because of the sheer size of the work, the best access is offered by the electronic version, even though the search interface is poorly designed. Review: Bruce Bonta and Frances Cable, RSR: Reference Services Review 10.1 (1982): 25–33.

Gale has used this database to produce several clones, some of which include additional entries; those of most interest to literary researchers are the following:

  • Almanac of Famous People: A Comprehensive Reference Guide to More than 40,000 Famous and Infamous Newsmakers from Biblical Times to the Present. Ed. Kristin Mallegg. 10th ed. 2 vols. Detroit: Gale-Cengage, 2011.

  • Artist Biographies Master Index. Ed. Barbara McNeil. 1986. 700 pp.

  • Author Biographies Master Index. Ed. Geri Speace. 5th ed. 2 vols. 1997.

  • Children’s Authors and Illustrators (U5500).

  • Historical Biographical Dictionaries Master Index. Ed. McNeil and Miranda C. Herbert. 1980. 1,003 pp.

  • Performing Arts Biography Master Index. Ed. McNeil and Herbert. 2nd ed. 1982. 701 pp.

  • Twentieth-Century Author Biographies Master Index. Ed. McNeil. 1984. 519 pp.

  • Writers for Young Adults: Biographies Master Index (U5500a).

Although the work has largely been superseded, Patricia Pate Havlice, Index to Literary Biography, 2 vols. (Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1975), and First Supplement, 2 vols. (1983), does index some biographical dictionaries of foreign authors that are omitted from Biography and Genealogy Master Index.


IBN: Index Bio-bibliographicus Notorum Hominum (IBN). Ed. Jean-Pierre Lobies et al. 5 pts. Mettingen: Zeller, 1972– . Z5301.L7 [CT104] 016.92. CD-ROM.

  • Pars A: Allgemeine Einführung / General Introduction/Introduction générale. In progress.

  • Pars B: Catalogus Operum Examinatorum / Liste der ausgewerteten bio-bibliographischen Werke / List of the Evaluated Bio-bibliographical Works / Liste des ouvrages bio-bibliographiques dépouillés. 1973– .

  • Pars C: Corpus Alphabeticum.

    • I. Sectio Generalis. 1974– .

    • II. Sectio Islamica.

    • III. Sectio Armeniaca. 4 vols. 1982–87.

    • IV. Sectio Indica.

    • V. Sectio Japonica.

    • VI. Sectio Sinica. 1976– .

  • Pars D: Supplementum.

  • Pars E: Gesamtregister der Verweisungen / General Index of References / Table générale des renvois.

A massive index to entries on more than 3 million people (as of mid-2005) in several thousand universal and specialized biographical dictionaries published throughout the world. The sources are listed in pt. B, with periodic supplements in volumes of the Corpus Alphabeticum (see Sectio Generalis, vols. 23–25, 40, 47, 99). In the Corpus Alphabeticum, a typical entry cites name; birth and death dates; occupation, residence, birthplace, or other information that distinguishes between persons with the same name; and coded references to the sources listed in List of the Evaluated Bio-bibliographical Works. Supplementary listings for the portion of the alphabet already covered appear at intervals in volumes of Corpus Alphabeticum. Entries, alphabetized by the 24-letter Latin alphabet, follow sources in forms of names, with cross-references for variant forms and pseudonyms. Because the General Introduction (which will explain principles of compilation, guidelines for using the work, and transliteration practices) has not been published, the scope, organization, and criteria governing selection of sources remain unclear. It appears that Corpus Alphabeticum: Sectio Generalis covers persons of all nationalities other than those accorded a separate sectio. In contrast to Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565), IBN emphasizes retrospective dictionaries rather than regularly updated compilations and is far more international in scope; however, publication of Corpus Alphabeticum: Sectio Generalis had reached only the beginning of M by early 2013. For the current status of the work, see,de. When finished, IBN will provide an invaluable, time-saving source for identifying which biographical dictionaries print an entry on an individual.


Gale Biography in Context. InfoTrac. Gale, n.d. 12 Sept. 2014. <>. Updated regularly.

A database that indexes and provides full-text access to biographical data about more than 600,000 individuals (as of summer 2014). Among the print sources included are Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (U6235a); Contemporary Authors (J595); Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series (J595a); Contemporary Dramatists (M2880); Contemporary Novelists (M2845); Contemporary Poets (M2895); Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television (Q4305); Dictionary of American Biography (Q3380); Directory of American Scholars (U5070a); Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Q3714); LGBT: Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History in America (U5928a); Marquis Who’s Who on the Web (Q3395); Merriam-Webster’s Biographical Dictionary (J580); New Catholic Encyclopedia (U6345); Who’s Who among African Americans (Q3770a); Who’s Who in the Theatre (17th ed.; Q4305a); and several thousand articles from a variety of magazines. Users can chose from three search screens: Basic Search (which allows for searches by name, occupation, nationality, birth place, or death place); Person Search (which allows for searches by name, birth place, or death place and can be limited by occupation, nationality, ethnicity, gender, birth year, and death year); Advanced Search (which allows for searches of a field on a pull-down menu to be limited to full-text documents and peer-reviewed journals and by publication date, document type, content type [e.g., videos or academic journals], content level, and lexile range). Browse People is organized by group or occupation. Searching any of the preceding will lead to a screen that displays a person’s name (including variant forms), occupation, and lifespan, along with links to resources that include the person; for many searches the resources will be grouped by type (e.g., reference, news, magazines, academic journals, images, and Web sites). Users can e-mail, print, download, bookmark, share on social network sites, listen to, or translate into a few major languages an entry or save it to a list for e-mailing, bookmarking, downloading, or printing with other entries. Although depending heavily on Gale publications for content, Gale Biography in Context does offer a convenient way of searching a group of standard biographical dictionaries.

See also

Arnim, Internationale Personalbibliographie (D160).

Wearing, American and British Theatrical Biographies (L1175).

General Biographical Dictionaries

Retrospective Dictionaries


Biographie universelle (Michaud) ancienne et moderne, ou histoire, par ordre alphabétique, de la vie publique et privée de tous les hommes qui se sont fait remarquer par leurs écrits, leurs actions, leurs talents, leurs vertus ou leurs crimes (Michaud). [Ed. J. F. Michaud, L. G. Michaud, and E. E. Desplaces.] New ed. 45 vols. Paris: Desplaces; Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1843–65. CT143.M5.

An extensive universal biographical dictionary of eminent and notorious persons. The signed articles, ranging from a few lines to several pages, frequently include a list of works by the entrant. Although badly dated, Michaud is the best of the older universal dictionaries and remains a useful source of information on numerous minor figures. Less trustworthy but including more minor figures through the letter M is Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, ed. [Jean Chrétien Ferdinand] Hoefer, 46 vols. (Paris: Didot, 1857–66).

For a detailed evaluation and comparison of the two works—along with a summary of the legal action brought by Michaud and Desplaces against Didot for plagiarism—see [R. C. Christie, “Biographical Dictionaries,”] Quarterly Review 157.313 (1884): 187–230.


Merriam-Webster’s Biographical Dictionary. Springfield: Merriam, 1995. 1,170 pp. CT103.W4 920′.02. Online through Gale Biography in Context (J572); CD-ROM.

A compilation of biographical data on some 30,000 dead individuals who were “important, celebrated, or notorious” from c. 2925 BC to the twentieth century. A revision of the venerable Webster’s Biographical Dictionary (Springfield: Merriam, with several revised printings from 1943 to 1980), this edition—like its immediate predecessor (Webster’s New Biographical Dictionary [Springfield: Merriam, 1983; 1,130 pp.])—omits living persons and increases coverage of non-English-speaking countries, especially in the Third World. The brief entries provide surname (indicating end-of-line division and pronunciation); prenames; titles, epithets, pseudonyms, or nicknames; birth and death dates; nationality or ethnic group; occupations; birthplace (primarily for Americans and Canadians); and brief career details. Concludes with a guide to pronunciation of name elements, titles, and prenames. Although vague about criteria determining selection, Merriam-Webster’s Biographical Dictionary remains the best desktop source of basic biographical information and pronunciation of names for important individuals.

Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ed. Liam Rodger, 9th ed. (Edinburgh: Chambers–Chambers Harrap, 2011; 1,663 pp.) covers fewer persons (about 18,000) but offers fuller, albeit not always accurate and current, information and gives more prominence to twentieth-century figures, women, and individuals from popular spheres of life. The 6th ed. can be searched at David Crystal, The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998; 1,179 pp.) includes even fewer (about 16,500) and briefer entries, emphasizes twentieth-century individuals (especially politicians and those involved in sports), offers a pronunciation guide (except, inexplicably, for those accorded the longer, boxed entries), and concludes with a “ready-reference” section that lists—by field, country, position, award, or sport—numerous people not given entries. Entrants are indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565).

Current Dictionaries


Current Biography. Ipswich: Wilson-EBSCO, 1940– . 11/yr., with annual cumulation and revision as Current Biography Yearbook. CT100.C8 920′.009′04.

Current Biography Illustrated. EBSCOhost. Wilson-EBSCO, 2013. 19 Mar. 2013. <>. Updated monthly.

Biographies of persons throughout the world who are currently “prominent in the news.” Issues also include revised biographies and obituaries of previous entrants. Based on popular sources and information from the biographees, the approximately 2,500-word sketches provide basic biographical data, an address, an interpretative account of the person’s career and achievements, and a list of sources. The annual cumulations update entries, classify entrants by profession, and provide a cumulative index for the current decade. Cumulatively indexed in Current Biography Cumulated Index, 1940–2005 (New York: Wilson, 2006; 200 pp.); some of the yearbooks are also indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565). Current Biography is also searchable in Biography Reference Bank (J540).

Current Biography Illustrated uses a modified version of the EBSCO search interface (see J565). The database is also searchable through Biography Reference Bank. Although formulaic in organization, predictable in style, usually uncritical in interpretation, and relying largely on popular sources and information supplied by biographees, Current Biography does treat a substantial number of writers from throughout the world.


The International Who’s Who. London: Routledge–Taylor and Francis, 1935– . Annual. CT120.I5 920.01. Online as part of World’s Who’s Who. <>.

A biographical dictionary of living notable and eminent individuals from throughout the world (there are over 25,000 persons, including 1,000 new entrants, in the 78th ed., 2014). The compact entries provide basic biographical and career information, selected publications and awards, and address. A list of reigning royal families appears at the beginning. Entrants in several editions are indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565).

In the online version, users can search the full text by keyword, surname, first name, nationality, profession, place of birth, and date of birth or death; searches can be restricted by gender and status (i.e., living or deceased). Results are ordered by surname in ascending alphabetical order and cannot be sorted or searched. Users can also browse an alphabetic list of entrants. An entry can be printed or downloaded only through a Web browser’s print or save commands.

This work is generally accounted the best of the who’s who dictionaries that attempt international coverage. Among others of this kind, Who’s Who in the World (New Providence: Marquis, 1970– , biennial; online as part of Marquis Who’s Who on the Web [Q3395]) is sometimes useful.

Dictionaries of Writers


Blain, Virginia, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, eds. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. New Haven: Yale UP, 1990. 1,231 pp. PR111.B57 820.9′0003.

A biographical dictionary of English-language belletristic and popular writers, diarists, autobiographers, and critics, along with a few foreign language authors and some entries on related genres, critical theories, topics, and institutions. Although covering Africa, North America, the British Isles, Asia, the Caribbean, New Zealand, and the South Pacific through 1985, the majority of the approximately 2,700 individually authored but unsigned entries are for British and United States writers born after 1800. The entries, which are alphabetized by the best-known form of an author’s name and which range from about 50 to 500 words, sketch an entrant’s personal and professional career and stress her connections with other women. Most entries conclude with references to standard biographies or critical studies; the abbreviated—sometimes cryptic—citations require a user to consult both the prefatory list of abbreviations as well as the concluding list of works cited. Three indexes: topics; chronology; variant forms of names and women referred to but without separate entries. Entrants are also indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565). Although lacking any explanation of how entrants were selected, The Feminist Companion is the most thorough biographical dictionary devoted to women writing in English. The breadth of coverage and the well-edited entries combine to make this a rare example of an informative and—despite the inevitable abbreviations—readable biographical dictionary. Reviews: Maureen E. Mulvihill, Scriblerian 24 (1992): 211–14; John Sutherland, London Review of Books 11 July 1991: 18–19; Sharon Valiant, Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography ns 4 (1990): 190–94.

Complementing The Feminist Companion, but including fewer writers, are the following:

  • Bell, Parfitt, and Shepherd, Biographical Dictionary of English Women Writers, 1580–1720 (M1433a).

  • Schlueter and Schlueter, Encyclopedia of British Women Writers (M1433a).

  • Todd, British Women Writers (M1433a).

  • Todd, Dictionary of British and American Women Writers (M2265).

Lorna Sage, ed., The Cambridge Guide to Women’s Writing in English (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999; 696 pp.; online through Gale Virtual Reference Library [I535]), sports an impressive array of contributors but lacks an explanation of scope and criteria governing selection.


Contemporary Authors: A Bio-bibliographical Guide to Current Writers in Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Journalism, Drama, Motion Pictures, Television, and Other Fields. Detroit: Gale-Cengage, 1962– . Z1224.C6 928.1.

Contemporary Authors. InfoTrac. Gale-Cengage, n.d. 6 Mar. 2012. <>. Updated biweekly. Also searchable through Gale Biography in Context (J572), Gale Virtual Reference Library (I535), and Literature Resource Center (I528).

A dictionary of twentieth- and twenty-first-century writers, scholars, and critics whose books have been published by legitimate publishers. Although emphasizing living authors who write in English, Contemporary Authors includes those authors whose works have been translated into English as well as many persons who died since 1900. (Until vol. 104 [1982], the only deceased persons included were those who died after 1959.) Entries are of two types:

  1. Sketches are full entries that provide basic biographical and career information; home, office, or agent address; memberships; awards and honors; publications; work in progress; sidelights (e.g., a comment by the biographee or quotations from reviews or criticism); avocational interests; selected biographical and critical sources; and occasionally an interview.

  2. Obituaries of both previous entrants and other writers include references to obituaries in other publications or biographical sources; many obituaries are expanded or revised as sketches in subsequent volumes.

Many volumes through 131 (1991) include brief entries that give basic biographical details and a list of selected publications; many of the brief entries are expanded into sketches in subsequent volumes.

All entries in vols. 1–44 are revised or reprinted in Contemporary Authors: First Revision, 44 vols. (1967–79). A few early entries for writers who later died or became inactive are revised or reprinted in Contemporary Authors: Permanent Series, 2 vols. (1975–78). Revised or updated entries now appear in Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series (1981–). (All the preceding are included in the electronic versions; New Revision Series is searchable through Gale Biography in Context [J572] and [beginning with vol. 114 (2003)] through Gale Virtual Reference Library [I535], as is Contemporary Authors [beginning with vol. 206 (2003)].) All these sources are complemented by the following:

  • Contemporary Authors: Autobiography Series. 30 vols. 1984–99. A collection of extensively illustrated autobiographical essays of 10,000 words written especially for the series.

  • Contemporary Authors: Bibliographical Series. 3 vols. 1986–89.

    • Vol. 1: American Novelists. Ed. James J. Martine. 1986. 431 pp.

    • Vol. 2: American Poets. Ed. Ronald Baughman. 1986. 387 pp.

    • Vol. 3: American Dramatists. Ed. Matthew C. Roudané. 1989. 484 pp.

  • A collection of surveys of research and bibliographies of works by and English-language scholarship about post–World War II authors. Each separately authored essay is organized in three divisions: a list of primary works, a list of important studies (with sections for bibliographies, biographies, interviews, and criticism), and an evaluative survey of major scholarship (which occasionally offers suggestions for further research). Although highly selective in coverage of scholarship and varying in quality, these bibliographies’ typically rigorous evaluative surveys make them useful starting points for research on the authors covered. It is indeed unfortunate that Gale terminated such a valuable series.

Because of the numerous series and frequent revisions, users must consult the most recent Contemporary Authors: Cumulative Index to locate the most current entry on a writer. (The cumulative index also includes other Gale biographical dictionaries such as Dictionary of Literary Biography [J600].) The various Contemporary Authors volumes are also indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565).

The electronic version includes the most recent entry on a writer, and some printed entries have been updated, albeit haphazardly. Entries now identify date of creation or revision. Entries can be searched by name, title of work, birth year, death year, nationality, subject or genre, full text, birth place, death place, personal information, career, honors and awards, and media adaptations. While the electronic version speeds up access, it needs a clear explanation of its relation to its print ancestors and of the nature and extent of revision. Right now it offers little more than a transfer of data from a print to an electronic medium. For a comparison of the print and electronic versions, see the review by Susan Herzog, Against the Grain 12.4 (2000): 30, 32, 34, 36.

Although a majority of the entries are based on information supplied (and subsequently checked) by a biographee, agent, or family member, there are omissions and errors; however, currency and scope make Contemporary Authors a valuable source for information about and addresses of living British and American writers.

Other useful, but less comprehensive, sources for biographical information on writers include the following:

  • World Authors, 1900–1950. Ed. Martin Seymour-Smith and Andrew C. Kimmens. 4 vols. New York: Wilson, 1996. Wilson Authors Ser. CD-ROM. (A revision of Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature, ed. Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft [1942; 1,577 pp.] and First Supplement, ed. Kunitz and Vineta Colby [1955; 1,123 pp.].) The work is continued as World Authors, 1950–1970, ed. John Wakeman (1975; 1,594 pp.; Authors Ser.).

  • World Authors, 1970–1975, ed. Wakeman (1980; 894 pp.; Wilson Authors Ser.).

  • World Authors, 1975–1980, ed. Colby (1985; 829 pp.; Wilson Authors Ser.).

  • World Authors, 1980–1985, ed. Colby (1991; 938 pp.; Wilson Authors Ser.).

  • World Authors, 1985–1990, ed. Colby (1995; 970 pp.; Wilson Authors Ser.).

  • World Authors, 1990–1995, ed. Clifford Thompson (1999; 863 pp.).

  • World Authors, 1995–2000, ed. Thompson and Mari Rich (2003; 872 pp.).

  • World Authors, 2000–2005, ed. Jennifer Curry et al. (2007; 800 pp.).

Selection in the preceding works is based on importance or popularity. Others in the series are too dated to be of much value:

  • American Authors, 1600–1900: A Biographical Dictionary of American Literature, ed. Kunitz and Haycraft (1938; 846 pp.).

  • British Authors before 1800: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Kunitz and Haycraft (1952; 584 pp.).

  • British Authors of the Nineteenth Century, ed. Kunitz and Haycraft (1936; 677 pp.).

  • European Authors, 1000–1900: A Biographical Dictionary of European Literature, ed. Kunitz and Colby (1967; 1,016 pp.; Authors Ser.).

All the preceding are available (some with updated bibliographies) in electronic form in Biography Reference Bank (J540). All the preceding works are indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565) and (except for World Authors, 1995–2000 and World Authors, 2000–2005) in Index to the Wilson Authors Series, [rev. ed.] (1997; 136 pp.). For a history of the series and its critical reception, see Gary L. Ferguson, “Lives of the Poets, Novelists, and Dramatists: The Wilson Authors Series,” Reference Services Review 16.3 (1988): 31–44.


Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB). Detroit: Gale-Cengage, 1978– . PS221.D5. <>.

Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online. Gale-Cengage, n.d. 16 Sept. 2014. <>. Updated quarterly. Also searchable through Gale’s Artemis: Literary Sources.

Separately edited volumes of commissioned biographical-bibliographic-critical essays that trace the careers of selected authors, critics, screenwriters, journalists, scholars, and publishers. Most volumes are organized around a genre, group, or type of writer within a historical period of a national literature (e.g., American Novelists since World War II; American Humorists, 1800–1950; Victorian Novelists before 1885; American Newspaper Journalists, 1926–1950; Canadian Writers since 1960; British Mystery Writers, 1860–1919; Chicano Writers); the majority of the 366 volumes published by October 2012 are devoted to literatures in English. The extensively illustrated discussions integrate biographical information with brief synopses and critical estimates of major works within the designated genre or topic, describe the author’s importance and reputation, note manuscripts, and list primary works and selected scholarship. Each volume concludes with a list of important general studies. Because of the organization by genre or group within a period, some writers appear in more than one volume. Cumulatively indexed by writer (along with the Yearbooks, Concise Dictionarys, and Documentary Series—see below) in each volume; volumes are also indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index (J565) and Contemporary Authors (J595).

Users should search the online version available through Gale’s Artemis: Literary Sources, which offers an easily readable Web version of each article as well as scans of the printed text. (Artemis is an integration, still ongoing, of several Gale literary products. The DLB is not part of the Literature Resource Center in the new interface.) Users will have best luck finding DLB articles through the Artemis advanced search, looking for the author in the “Person by or about” field and Dictionary of Literary Biography in the “publication title” field.

Although varying widely in quality, the essays are generally superior to those in similar collections, offer a convenient summary of a writer’s career, and for several minor authors provide the fullest available discussions.

Dictionary of Literary Biography: Yearbook, [1980–2002] (1981–2003) includes reports on conferences; discussions and lists of literary prizes and awards; interviews; obituaries; descriptions of new literary periodicals; essays on a variety of literary topics; and surveys of the year’s publications in fiction, poetry, drama, and literary biography. The Yearbooks through 1987 (1988) update entries or add new ones to published volumes of Dictionary of Literary Biography. Dictionary of Literary Biography: Documentary Series: An Illustrated Chronicle (1982–99) reprints biographical and background materials (including letters, diary entries, interviews, book reviews, and excerpts from criticism) on selected authors or topics; beginning in 1999, documentary volumes appear in the regular DLB series. Cumulatively indexed by author (along with the Dictionary and Yearbooks) in each volume. The Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography, 6 vols. (1987–89) and Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, 8 vols. (1992), collections of DLB articles (some updated) on major authors, are designed for high school and junior college libraries.

See also

Allibone, Critical Dictionary of English Literature (M1430).

Benét’s Reader’s Encyclopedia (C120).

Cambridge Guide to Literature in English (C125).

Dizionario Bompiani degli autori (C130a).