Skip to Main Content

Literatures in English: Old and Middle English

This page lists sources that cover multiple periods, genres, and/or nationalities. See additional resources in the "Historical Literary Period" and "Geographical Region" pages.

Specialized Encyclopedias and Topical Dictionaries

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer. Ed. Douglas Gray. NY: Oxford University Press, 2003. Short to medium-length articles on topics and allusions about or within Chaucer's works, life, and historical context.

The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Ed. Robert E. Bjork. NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.  Covers all key aspects of European history, society, and culture from 500 to 1500 A.D., as well as the Byzantine Empire, Islamic dynasties, and Asiatic peoples of the era. It is designed both for medievalists, who need a detailed and reliable reference tool, and for students and general readers seeking an accessible guide to the period.

Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Joseph R. Strayer, editor-in-chief. NY: Scribners, 1982-1989. 13 vols.+ Supplement (2004). Geisel Reference D114 .D5 1982.

Lexikon des Mittelalters. Munchen & Zurich: Lexma, 1977-1999. 10 volumes. 5th floor D 101.5 .L49.  For those who read German, this is another comprehensive scholarly encyclopedia of history, culture, and literature of the Middle Ages in Europe and parts of North Africa and the Middle East.

The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. Ed. Norris J. Lacy. Updated paperback edition. NY: Garland, 1996. Geisel stacks DA 152.5 .A7 N48 1996


Specialized Dictionaries (Language)

Bosworth, Joseph. An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. Edited and enlarged by T. Northcote Toller. London: Oxford University Press, 1954. (First published 1882-1898.) Supplement, by T. Northcote Toller. London: Oxford University Press, 1955. (First published 1908-1921.  Still the moxt complete Anglo-Saxon dictionary currently available. Reference PE 279 .B5 1954 / supplement. 

Clark, John R. Clark. A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. 4th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960. 7th floor PE 279 .H3 1960.  

Edmonds, Flora, Christian Kay, Jane Roberts, and Irene Wotherspoon. A Thesaurus of Old English. University of Glasgow Online.  The printed volumes, by Roberts and Kay (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000, 2 volumes) are at 7th floor PE 279 .R62 2000.

 Dictionary of Old English. The Dictionary of Old English (DOE) defines the vocabulary of the first six centuries (C.E. 600-1150) of the English language, using twenty-first century technology. The DOE complements the Middle English Dictionary (which covers the period C.E. 1100-1500) and the Oxford English Dictionary, the three together providing a full description of the vocabulary of English. NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT UCSD. Please examine the website and let me know if there is interest.

Middle English Dictionary (MED). Ed. Hans Kurath et al. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1952-2001. 13 volumes. Its 15,000 pages offer a comprehensive analysis of lexicon and usage for the period 1100-1500, based on the analysis of a collection of over three million citation slips, the largest collection of this kind available. Available on line through The Middle English Compendiumwhich preserves all the details of the print MED, but goes far beyond this, by converting its contents into an enormous database, searchable in ways impossible within any print dictionary. UCSD's print set is at SRLF.


Secondary Bibliographies & Surveys of Research

Don't forget MLAIB and ABELL!

International Medieval Bibliography Online. An interdisciplinary index to scholarly articles about the period from roughly 300 to 1500. There are no full texts included, but each citation has a UC eLink button added.

OEN [Old English Newsletter] Bibliography Database.  This database contains the annual bibliographies from Old English Newsletter from 1973 to 2006—over 21,000 entries—with new items added annually. These can be browsed by subject, scanned for keywords, or searched by specific fields. Access is free but is limited to registered users.

Year's Work in English Studies (YWES) has a chapter on Old English literature.

Annotated Chaucer Bibliography, 1997-2010. Manchester University Press, 2016. Ed. Mark Allen and Stephanie Amsel. A similar volume, in print format only, covering 1986-1996, is in Geisel stacks at PR 1905 B69 2002 (7th floor).

Chaucer Bibliographies series. The Library has most of the bibliographies, in print or digital format (or both), in this series, which consists of retrospective bibliographies of criticism and scholarship on one or more of the tales. For example, one volume has a century's (1900-2000) worth of citations to work on the Monk's and the Nun's Priest's Tales. See Roger for individual titles.

Anglo-Saxon England. This journal contains an annual classified bibliography of books, articles, and significant reviews on all aspects of Anglo-Saxon Studies. 

Greenfield, Stanley B. and Fred C. Robinson. A Bibliography of Publications on Old English Literature to the End of 1972. Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 1980. 7th floor PR 173 .G83   Although 40+ years old, this is an extremely comprehensive bibliography for studies through 1972.

Stratman, Carl J. Bibliography of Medieval Drama. 2nd edition, rev. NY: Ungar, 1972. 2 volumes. Reference PN 1655 .S8  Updated by:

Berger, Sidney E. Medieval English Drama: An Annotated Bibliography of Recent Criticism.  NY: Garland, 1990. Not available at UCSD; available in the Reference Collection at Love Library, SDSU, or borrow through Melvyl. 

Bibliography of the International Arthurian Society. Berlin, DeGruyter,      -  .  The Library has digital copies of some of the recent volumes of this ongoing series. Consult Roger.

Greentree, Rosemary. The Middle English Lyric and Short Poem. Cambridge UK; Rochester NY: D.S. Brewer, 2001. Geisel stacks PR 311 .G83 2011 Lists both primary and secondary sources.

Pulsiano, Phillip. An Annotated Bibliography of North American Doctoral Dissertations on Old English Language and Literature. (Medieval Texts and Studies, 3). East Lansing, MI: Colleagues Press, 1988.  7th floor PR 171 .P85 1988.

Rosenthal, Joel T. Anglo-Saxon History: An Annotated Bibliography, 450-1066. (AMS Studies in the Middle Ages, 7). NY: AMS Press, 1985.  UCSD's copy at SRLF. Use Melvyl (not Roger) to request it.  A selective bibliography of primarily English-language scholarship published through the 1980s, useful for research that goes beyond literature.

Edwards, A.S.G., editor. Middle English Prose: A Critical Guide to Major Authors and Genres. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1984.  Surveys of scholarhip and editions. UCSD's copy is at SRLF; use Melvyl (not Roger) to request it.

Fisher, John H. The Medieval Literature of Western Europe: A Review of Research, Mainly 1930-1960. New York: New York University Press for the Modern Language Association of America, 1966. The chapter "Middle English Literature to 1400" is by Robert W. Ackerman and covers bibliographies, general and background studies, works of religious instruction, mysticism, translations and didactic works, poetry, romance, drama, Piers Plowman, Chaucer, and Gower. (Description from Harner, M1830). Geisel 7th floor PN 671 .F5


Gray, Douglas. The Oxford Companion to Chaucer. Oxford Univeristy Press, 2003. 

Andrew, Malcolm. The Palgrave Literary Dictionary of Chaucer. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Rossignol, Rosalyn. Chaucer A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Works. New York: Facts on File, 1999. Geisel Reference PR 1903 .R67 1999

Chaucer Metapage. A portal to Chaucer materials on the Internet.

Bibliographies and Indexes of Primary Sources

The Index of Middle English Prose: Index to Vols. I-XX. Comp. Kari Anne Rand. D.S. Brewer, 2014.

A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050-1500. J. Burke Severs, Albert E. Hartung, and Peter G. Beidler, general editors. New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1967-      . Each chapter has both a bibliography of extant manuscripts and published editions and a description and commentary on the writings listed. Recent volumes produced under the editorial supervision of the Middle English Division of MLA. Geisel Reference PR 255 .M3 (volumes 1-9 only).

Boffey, Julia and A.S.G. Edwards. A New Index of Middle English Verse. London: British Library, 2005. A first-line index to poems, primarily in manuscripts and written before 1500.  Geisel Reference PR 1203 .B64 2005  

Grantley, Darryll. English Dramatic Interludes 1300-1580: A Reference Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2004. A bibliography of extant noncycle drama in English from 1300 to 1680. Geisel 7th floor PR 643 .I57 G73 2004

Greentree, Rosemary. The Middle English Lyric and Short Poem. Cambridge UK; Rochester NY: D.S. Brewer, 2001. Geisel stacks PR 311 .G83 2011 Lists both primary and secondary sources.

Records of Early English Drama.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press; London: British Library; 1979 -        .  Individual volumes for separate cities and/or counties, each with separate editor(s). Each volume transcribes civic, guild, and ecclesiastical records and other documents relating to dramatic, ceremonial, or minstrel activity before 1642. Use this title in Roger to see available volumes at UCSD. Use Melvyl to discover volumes not owned by UCSD.