Literary Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Encyclopedia of Post-colonial Literatures in English. Ed. Eugene Benson and L. W. Conolly. 2nd ed. 2 vols. London: Routledge–Taylor and Francis, 2005. Online through Credo Reference ( PR9080.A52 E53 820.9′917124′09045.

An encyclopedia of genres, subjects, national literatures, and writers associated with the English-language literatures of Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the Caribbean, East Africa, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saint Helena, Singapore, South Africa, South Central Africa, the South Pacific, Sri Lanka, and West Africa. The more than 1,800 signed entries (with coverage to 2002–03) combine factual information with critical commentary and frequently end with suggestions for further reading (many entries on genres run to several thousand words). Concludes with an admirably detailed index of titles, subjects, and persons. Encyclopedia of Post-colonial Literatures in English is easily the most extensive general encyclopedia of the newer literatures in English.

See also

Cambridge Guide to Literature in English (C125).

Guides to Primary Works


Books in Print (Q4225).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Serial Bibliographies


““Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature, [1964– ]”.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 1 (1965)– . PR1.J67 820.05.

A classified bibliography of primary and secondary works with divisions for general studies, East and Central Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, Australia (with Papua New Guinea), Canada, the Caribbean, India, Malaysia and Singapore, New Zealand (including the South Pacific islands), Sri Lanka, West Indies, Pakistan, and South Africa; some divisions—notably those for East and Central Africa, Western Africa, Southern Africa, and the West Indies—appear irregularly. Each division is prefaced by an overview of the year’s publications and has sections for bibliographies, research aids, primary works (by genre), criticism (classified by general works and individual authors), nonfiction, and new periodicals. Even though “Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature” is not comprehensive, it offers the best coverage of current studies of English-language literature in several of the countries or areas.

Some additional publications are listed in “Bibliography of Books and Articles Published in English on Colonialism and Imperialism in [1999– ],” Journal of Colonialism and Social History 1 (2000– ), which currently organizes journal articles, books, and essays from collections or chapters from books in separate alphabetized, unannotated lists. See New, Critical Writings on Commonwealth Literatures (R4380), for scholarship before 1964.

See also

Secs. G: Serial Bibliographies, Indexes, and Abstracts and H: Guides to Dissertations and Theses.

ABELL (G340): Entries on English-language writers and literatures are dispersed throughout.

MLAIB (G335): English Literature division (especially English III: General) through the volume for 1956; English XI: Australia, Canada, Etc. section in the volumes for 1957–66; English II: Australia, Canada, Etc. section in the volumes for 1967–80; and the [British] Commonwealth Literature/Canadian Literature section in later volumes. Researchers must also check the headings beginning with “Commonwealth” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

YWES (G330): African, Caribbean, and Canadian Literatures in English chapter since vol. 63 (for 1982); expanded to include Australian, New Zealand, and Indian literatures in vol. 64 (for 1983).

Other Bibliographies


New, William H. Critical Writings on Commonwealth Literatures: A Selective Bibliography to 1970, with a List of Theses and Dissertations. University Park: Penn State UP, 1975. 333 pp. Z2000.9.N48 [PR9080] 016.82′09.

A selective bibliography of scholarship on Commonwealth literatures in English. The 6,576 entries are organized in two parts: published works; theses and dissertations. In each part, entries are listed alphabetically by author in classified divisions for general works and countries or areas (East and West Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Rhodesia, South Asia [India, Pakistan, and Ceylon], Southeast Asia [Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines], and West Indies). Where appropriate, each division has sections for reference works, general studies, and individual authors. Indexed by scholars. Unfortunately, Critical Writings on Commonwealth Literatures separates published works from theses and dissertations—an unnecessary distinction; moreover, it is superseded in parts by recent bibliographies of a national literature or area. Still, the work remains an indispensable source that includes a significant number of studies overlooked by the standard bibliographies and indexes in section G. For scholarship since 1964, see “Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature” (R4375).

Portions of New are continued in a regrettably short-lived series edited by Alan Lawson: Post-colonial Literatures in English (New York: Hall-Simon 1996–97; Reference Pub. in Lit.):

  • Lawson, Alan, Leigh Dale, Helen Tiffin, and Shane Rowlands. Post-colonial Literatures in English: General, Theoretical, and Comparative, 1970–1993. 1997. 374 pp.

  • Lever, Richard, James Wieland, and Scott Findlay. Post-colonial Literatures in English: Australia, 1970–1992. 1996. 361 pp.

  • Williams, Mark. Post-colonial Literatures in English: Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, 1970–1992. 1996. 370 pp.

Each volume offers a selective annotated guide to scholarship. Although organization varies from title to title, all but General, Theoretical, and Comparative have a section for reference works, general studies, and publications about individual authors. Two indexes: persons; subjects (the latter needs considerable improvement; e.g., Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and the Pacific consists primarily of names and cannot be trusted to index those, Australia is inconsistent in its coverage). Despite the inadequate subject indexing (except in General, Theoretical, and Comparative), these volumes, with their typically full annotations and judicious selectivity, offer some of the best guidance to recent studies of newer literatures in English.


Guides to Primary Works


Warwick, Ronald, comp. and ed. Commonwealth Literature Periodicals: A Bibliography, Including Periodicals of Former Commonwealth Countries, with Locations in the United Kingdom. London: Mansell, 1979. 146 pp. Z2000.9.W37 [PR9080] 016.805.

A bibliography and finding list of English-language scholarly and literary journals published through mid-1977 in or about current and former Commonwealth countries (excluding the United Kingdom). Journals are placed according to focus rather than country of publication, in divisions for general works, Africa, Australia, Canada, Caribbean, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, Mediterranean, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, South Asia, and former Commonwealth nations. Many are subdivided by region or genre. A typical entry cites title, frequency of publication, date of first and last issue, place of publication, publisher, editor, variant titles, and holdings in United Kingdom libraries. (North American scholars will want to consult WorldCat [E225], Union List of Serials [K640a], and New Serial Titles [K640] for locations.) Although the inevitable omissions and errors appear in this first attempt at a comprehensive list of Commonwealth literary journals, it is an essential source for identifying and locating frequently elusive publications.

An essential complement for nineteenth-century periodicals is Vann and VanArsdel, Periodicals of Queen Victoria’s Empire: An Exploration (M2525a).



Index to Commonwealth Little Magazines (K795).