African Literatures in English

Works in section R: Other Literatures in English/General are important to research in African literatures in English.

Guides to Primary Works


Jahn, Janheinz, and Claus Peter Dressler. Bibliography of Creative African Writing. Nendeln: KTO, 1971. 446 pp. Z3508.L5 J28 016.8088.

A bibliography of works by and about African authors writing in English and in a variety of other European and African languages. Jahn and Dressler include all books published before 1900 but only creative works from 1910 to c. 1970 (along with some manuscripts ready for publication); except for plays, they exclude separate works in periodicals and anthologies. Coverage of scholarship (including reviews) is selective but international in scope. Entries are organized alphabetically by author within five classified divisions: general (with sections for bibliographies, journals, general studies, negritude, and general anthologies), Western Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa, and Austral Africa. Within each region are sections for general studies, anthologies, and individual works; general studies of an author precede the list of his or her primary works, and studies of a specific work are listed after the work. Additions appear on pp. 376–77. Forgeries are listed in an appendix. Four indexes: books by African language (classified according to the four regions); translations, organized by language of the translation; books, by country; persons. Users should study the introductory discussion of limitations and editorial practices. Impressive in its accuracy and breadth, Bibliography of Creative African Writing remains the best single list of creative works published before 1970. Parts have now been superseded by more recent author and regional bibliographies, however.

See also

“Annual Bibliography of Commonwealth Literature” (R4375).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Serial Bibliographies


Africa-Wide Information. EBSCOhost. EBSCO, 2013. 8 Mar. 2013. <>.

A group of databases that provide access to documents about South Africa or produced in the country. Of most interest to literary researchers are the Index to South African Periodicals (1987– ), the South African National Bibliography (1988– ), and—especially—the National English Literary Museum (NELM) databases (with coverage extending back to the nineteenth century, though that for 1990–present is more thorough): Select Index to South African Literature in English, Critical Writings (which currently includes more than 32,100 books, articles, dissertations, and reviews), Select Index to South African Literature in English, Creative Writings (with more than 143,200 records), the NELM catalog (more than 18,800 records), the NELM manuscripts catalog (more than 35,100 records), and A Bibliography of Anglophone Literature and Literary Criticism by Black South Africans (which covers first printings of creative and critical writing by South Africans of color between 1800 and 1990). Many records include abstracts. The database uses the standard EBSCO search interface (I512), with the option of limiting a search to specific databases. Currency and depth of coverage make Africa-Wide Information an essential resource for research in South African literature.

For those unable to access Africa-Wide Information, the NELM will do searches of its databases for a small fee (

Other Bibliographies


Lindfors, Bernth. Black African Literature in English: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale, 1979. 482 pp. Amer. Lit., English Lit., and World Lits. in English: An Information Guide Ser. 23. Black African Literature in English, 1977–1981: Supplement. New York: Africana, 1986. 382 pp. Black African Literature in English, 1982–1986. London: Zell, 1989. 444 pp. Black African Literature in English, 1987–1991. London: Zell, 1995. 682 pp. Bibliog. Research in African Lits. 3. Black African Literature in English, 1992–1996. Oxford: Zell-Currey, 2000. 654 pp. Black African Literature in English, 1997–1999. Oxford: Zell-Currey, 2003. 457 pp. Z3508.L5 L56 [PR9340] 016.82.

A bibliography of important scholarship and critical editions from 1936 through 1999. Lindfors excludes reviews, political biographies, and newspaper articles on nonliterary activity by authors. Entries are organized in two divisions: genres, topics, and reference sources; individual authors. The first division has sections for bibliographies, biographical sources, interviews with critics and multiple authors, general studies, fiction, drama, media (in 1992–99), poetry, criticism, autobiography, children’s literature, popular literature, language and style, literature and commitment, role of the writer, folklore and literature, image of the African, audience, craft of writing, periodicals, publishing, censorship, research (dissertation guides, surveys of research, and discussions of reference works), teaching, organizations and associations, conferences, and festivals; most of these sections have separate lists of bibliographies and studies. Bibliographies, biographical works, interviews, and criticism are listed separately under each author. Most sections conclude with a lengthy list of cross-references. Only a few entries are briefly annotated, principally with a list of authors discussed but sometimes with a note on content or an evaluative comment. Four indexes: persons; titles of works cited; subjects; regions. Authoritative in its selection of the most important scholarship and including numerous works omitted from the standard bibliographies and indexes in section G, Lindfors is the indispensable guide to the topic; however, users will wish for more extensive annotations by one of the foremost scholars of black African literature in English.

For a statistical analysis of the studies listed in the first four volumes, see Lindfors, “Counting Caliban’s Curses: A Statistical Inventory,” Language, Literature, and Society: A Conference in Honour of Bessie Head, spec. issue of Marang (1999): 57–63.

See also

Lindfors, “Researching African Literatures” (S4865).

MLAIB (G335): See the English Literature division, especially English III: General, in volumes through 1956; English XI: Australia, Canada, Etc./Africa section in the volumes for 1957–66; English II: Australia, Canada, Etc./Africa section in the volumes for 1967–80; and the African Literature division in later volumes. For African literatures in other languages, see General VII: Oriental and African section in the volumes for 1965–66; Oriental and African Literatures III: Africa in the volume for 1967; and the African Literature division in later volumes. Researchers must also check the headings beginning with “African(s)” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

New, Critical Writings on Commonwealth Literatures (R4380).

Schwartz, Articles on Women Writers (U6605).

YWES (G330): African literature has been covered in the African, Caribbean, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian Literatures in English chapter since vol. 63 (for 1982).