First published in September 2000, The Literary Encyclopedia provides 9833 articles about world literatures in English, amounting to 20 million words. It grows by 20-30 articles per month and is written and edited by university specialists who own the publication collectively.

  1. Contents
  2. Features and Functions
  3. Scholarly Outreach
  4. Writing for The Literary Encyclopedia


The Literary Encyclopedia publishes biographies of major and minor writers; scholarly descriptions of all interesting texts written by these authors, and a variety of descriptive and critical essays on literary, cultural, and historical matters which provide a finer understanding of the social contexts in which this writing was produced.

We seek to cover all of world literature and endeavour to publish articles on all writing of enduring cultural interest. Already we offer excellent coverage of English, American, modern European and Classical literatures, as well as substantial and increasing coverage of Hispanic, Japanese and various postcolonial literatures. Notably in recent years we have been adding a rich coverage of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Icelandic writing. Other literatures will be added as soon as we have editors qualified to undertake the work.

The Literary Encyclopedia publishes the following kinds of content:

  • People
  • Works
    • 4898 Descriptive-critical analyses
    • 35085 Works listed as primary bibliography for all the writers we have listed
  • Context
    • 916 Essays on genres, concepts, movements, theories, literary reception, and other relevant matters including salient historical events
  • Secondary Bibliography
    • 30869 Annotated or unannotated recommended critical reading linked to JSTOR and Project Muse

Please browse our Table of Contents here.

Features and Functions

  • All articles can be downloaded as pdfs for private use
  • Every user is allocated a private Bookshelf space where articles can be saved for future reference. All bookshelves (including bookshelves based on courses or modules) can be shared with other users of the Encyclopedia.

Scholarly Outreach

  • The Literary Encyclopedia Book Prizes

    Each year The Literary Encyclopedia awards two prizes, each worth £2000, one for scholarly work on literature originally in the English language, the other for scholarly work on literature in another language. Biographies, editions, or critical studies of literary writers, groups, works or periods, are eligible for these prizes. For further information see here.

  • The Literary Encyclopedia Research Travel Award

    The Literary Encyclopedia offers 2-4 travel bursaries each year worth between £500 and £750 to assist emerging scholars with the costs of research on literary matters. Conference attendance is not covered. Former award-winners are listed here.

  • Digital Publishing Training Programme

    Each year The Literary Encyclopedia offers training and mentoring in digital publishing to eight students at our subscribing institutions. Training takes place via fortnightly meetings across three months, usually focused around the student’s area of research, and intends to give insight into the demands of developing and managing online scholarly resources. For more information about the training scheme, please contact us.

Writing for The Literary Encyclopedia

The Literary Encyclopedia is a peer-reviewed publication. Most articles are commissioned by our editors from established specialists, but we will also consider proposals from doctoral researchers.

As mentioned above, we are proud to be an exemplary not-for-profit scholar-owned publication. All editors and authors accrue shareholding in the publication and can see their contribution and shareholder status displayed in their personal account pages. Shareholders receive annual statements of the company accounts and are consulted about all decisions which might affect their proprietorial rights.

Please visit our Information for Contributors page for further information.

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The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.