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Literatures in English: The Victorian Period (1837-1901)

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

Databases, Secondary Bibliographies, Indexes & Reviews of Research

Major databases:


For journals dedicated to 19th century studies in literature, click here.



Full Text Collections

See also Primary Sources 

English Poetry. One of the individual collections in Literature Online (LiON). Although this archive contains poems from the 8th through the early 20th centuries, it is particularly strong in poetry of the 18th and 19th centuries. Use the "Complete Contents" tab to scroll through all poets alphabetically, or the Search tab to search for poems by keyword, time period, gender of author, and other criteria.

Nineteenth Century Fiction. Another of the individual collections in Literature Online (LiON). A collection of 250 British and Irish novels from the period 1782 to 1903, stretching from the golden age of Gothic fiction to the Decadent and New Woman novels of the 1890s. Major novelists of the period such as Austen, Scott, Mary Shelley, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy and the Brontës feature alongside popular romances, sensation fiction, colonial adventure novels and children's literature. Click here for a separate LibGuide devoted to the Literature Online database.

19th Century British Pamphlets Online. More than 23,000 pamphlets from 7 UK libraries

At the Circulating Library: A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837-1901

Baldwin Library of Children's Literature Digital Edition.

The Carlyle Letters Online. More than 10,000 letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle.

 A Celebration of Women Writers.

.Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls from the Stanford University Library.  Full texts of almost a dozen dime novels of the late 19th century and about a hundred issues of one of the magazines intended for boys, Secret Service, notable now among other things for its depictions of racial and ethnic stereotypes. Also includes digital images of over 2300 covers from dime novels and penny dreadfuls.

The Rossetti Archive. Primary texts and secondary material about Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The (Algernon Charles) Swinburne Project. A digital collection and scholarly project devoted to the life and work of Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne and to digital encounters with Swinburne's works and related documents and information resources.

Times Digital Archive. Searchable full text of the Times between 1785 and 1985.

Victorian Women Writers Project. Includes transcriptions of the work of C19 women writers of prose, poetry, novels, religious tracts, and more.


Bibliographies & Indexes of Primary Sources

Nineteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue.  Part of C19 (see Useful Websites box). An attempt to list all books and much of the ephemera printed between 1801 and 1919 in Britain, its colonies, and the U.S.

Reilly, Catherine W. Mid-Victorian Poetry, 1860-1879: An Annotated Bibliography. London: Mansell, 2000.  Geisel Reference PR 581 .R454 2000

Reilly, Catherine W. Late Victorian Poetry, 1880-1899: An Annotated Bibliography. London: Mansell, 1994. Geisel Reference PR 581 .R453 1994  These two volumes attempt to list every separately-published volume of poetry in English by poets who lived in the U.K. between 1860 and 1899. It is NOT an index of poems in periodicals, anthologies, gift-books, etc. 

Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900. Part of C19 (see Useful Websites box). An index to the prose content (not poetry) of 43 major literary and general interest periodicals over the last three quarters of the Nineteenth Century.

Sullivan, Alvin, ed. British Literary Magazines. Volume III: THe Victorian and Edwardian Age, 1837-1913. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood, 1983. Geisel Reference PN 5124 .L6 B74 1983 v. 3.

Many bibliographies exist that enumerate all the known editions of an author's work, or some sub-set of them (such as first editions only). These bibliographies are called "Descriptive" bibliographies if they attempt to describe, using conventional terms and symbols, the exact appearance of particular editions, printings, and states of an author's works. One of the most important of these, for Victorian literature, is:

Sadleir, Michael. XIX Century Fiction: A Bibliographical Record Based on His Own Collection. (London: Constable, 1951, 2 volumes), located in Special Collections Reference, PR 821z .S34.  (The bulk of Sadleir's collection is now in the Special Collections Department at UCLA.)

A more recent and more comprehensive bibliography, also based on an individual collector's library, is:

Wolff, Robert Lee. Nineteenth-Century Fiction: A Bibliographical Catalogue Based on the Collection Formed by Robert Lee Wolff. (New York: Garland, 1981-86, 5 volumes), shelved in Geisel Reference at PR 861 .W6   

Also of interest are:

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. (London: The Fortune Press, 1941); UCSD has a 1964 reprint edition in te Annex (Z 2014 .F4 S9 1964).

Parrish, Morris Longstreth. Victorian Lady Novelists: George Eliot, Mrs. Gaskell, the Bronte Sisters: First Editions in the Library at Dormy House, Pine Valley, New Jersey, Described With Notes (London: Constable, 1933), located in Special Collections Reference, PR 1145z .P3 1933.

Other primary bibliographers are not particularly interested in describing the various editions listed, but in simply providing as comprehensive a listing of titles as possible within the parameters chosen.  Examples of these are:

Alston, R. C. A Checklist of Women Writers, 1801-1900: Fiction, Verse, Drama. London: British Library, 1990. Geisel Reference PR 115 .A428 1990

Davis, Gwynn and Beverly A. Joyce. Poetry by Women to 1900: A Bibliography of American and British Writers. London: Mansell, 1991. Geisel Reference PR 508 .W6 D38 1991

Snell, K. D. M. The Bibliography of Regional Fiction in Britain and Ireland, 1800-2000. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002. Geisel Reference PR 868 .R4 S64 2002

North, John S., editor. The Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900. Series 1 of 5. Waterloo, Ont.: North Waterloo Academic Press, 1997-     . 1st series (10 volumes.) Geisel Reference Z 6956 .E5 W37 1997.  A bibliography and finding list of approximately 25,000 serials published in England during the C19. This first series (out of a projected 5) is strong on theater periodicals, but not on literary ones. An expanded online database based on this product is available, but UCSD has not acquired it.  

A particular kind of bibliography is a published catalog of a particular library or of a particular museum or library exhibition. See, for example, "Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson, Baron, 1809-1892--Bibliography--Catalogs" or "Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870--Bibliography--Catalogs"


Index of English Literary Manuscripts. London: Mansell; NY: Bowker, 1980-     . Vol. 4: 1800-1900 compiled by Barbara Rosenbaum and Pamela White. Geisel stacks PR 83 .i5 

Useful Websites

The Victorian Web. A comprehensive, well-maintained and -organized site dedicated to all aspects of Victorian culture; it contains thousands of scholarly articles, primary texts, images, and related materials.

C19: The Nineteenth-Century Index. C19 Index draws on the strength of established indexes such as the Nineteenth Century Short Title Catalogue (NSTC), The Wellesley Index, Poole's Index, Periodicals Index Online and the Cumulative Index to Niles' Register 1811–1849 to create integrated bibliographic coverage of over 1.7 million books and official publications, 70,000 archival collections and 22.7 million articles published in over 2,500 journals, magazines and newspapers. C19 Index now provides integrated access to 13 bibliographic indexes, including more than three million records from British Periodicals Collections I and II, together with the expanded online edition of the Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism (DNCJ).

Victoria Research Web. A guide to research on C19 Britain, including short reference works created by scholars, such as guides to periodicals research, locating and using Victorian publishing records, or planning a research trip to the UK. Also includes "At the Circulating Library," a database of information about the "triple-deckers" published during the period and serialization information for novels in more than 60 Victorian periodicals.

NINES (Nineteenth Century Scholarship Online). Enhanced access to digital research on the C19 (almost one million digital objects as of March 2012); also serves as a peer-reviewing body for digital scholarship.

Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians. A megasite from the British Library with selected full texts, images, audio talks, biographical information, videos, articles, and links to BL catalogs and descriptions of its collections and services. 

Digitizing "Chinese Englishmen": Representations of Race and Empire in the Nineteenth Century. This is a project that involves digitization and academic commentary on the Straits Chinese Magazine, a literary magazine published in colonial Singapore from 1897-1907 by a combination of Southeast Asian-born Anglophone Chinese subjects, European colonial writers and mixed-race Eurasian writers. It documents how British colonial culture created a group of “Asian Victorians” in Southeast Asia through the establishment of a colonial intermediary class within the diasporic Chinese group known as the “Straits Chinese.”


Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Companions, & Biography

Oxford Reference Library Online. Allows for a combined searching of over 150 separate Oxford reference titles, including the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, the Oxford Guide to Literary Britain and Ireland, and individual Oxford Readers' Companions to Dickens, Eliot, Trollope, Hardy, and the Brontes.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The most authoritative biographical encyclopedia for British subjects, from the Roman settlement to the 21st Century, with over 58,000 articles and almost 11,000 illustrations. A thorough revision of the Dictionary of National Biography, which was itself one of the monuments of Victorian intellectual achievement.

The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Ed. Paul Schlicke. Slightly revised from the 1999 edition.

Allibone, Samuel Austin A Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors, Living and Deceased, From the Earliest Accounts to the Latter Half of the Nineteenth Century. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1858-71. 3 vols.  The link is to the Making of America (MoA) collection of Ebooks.