Making the Literary Encyclopedia accessible to schools across the UK and Ireland

In light of the most recent developments of the pandemic, which has made access to high-quality materials more difficult and delivery of teaching content more challenging, the Editors have decided to make the LE freely accessible to all schools in the UK and Ireland in order to help students and teachers in their class preparations, as well as in exams revision and individual projects (EPQs etc). This decision has been spearheaded by the collective of lecturers and professors teaching in Universities across the UK and Ireland who curate and edit our volumes of English and French literature. We must stipulate that this is not a commercial proposal and that neither the Literary Encyclopedia (LE) nor its Editors and contributors are set to gain from the initiative laid out below. We see it as a collective effort to work with schools and colleges.

Let us introduce ourselves first. The Literary Encyclopedia is the leading online encyclopedia for world literature, from ancient times to the present. It provides biographies of writers and other significant literary figures, profiles of literary texts, overview essays on criticism and on the context of literary production. In addition, it offers integrated digital resources such as author life-chronologies, thematic or course-oriented bookshelves, related article clusters and critical bibliographies, thus responding to teaching and learning demands at secondary and HE levels. In the last two decades The Literary Encyclopedia has published over 8500 full-length articles (more than 18 million words) and is used across the globe by a diverse range of universities and schools (see testimonials below). It is currently divided into 10 parts, comprising 94 volumes which are overseen by 115 editors.

We would like to highlight the fact that many authors and works that are part of the A level syllabus are covered by articles in the LE. For instance,

You can download here the full list of A-level literary texts and authors for English A-level specifications covered by the LE, listed by exam board.

The LE does what Wikipedia cannot do: being uniquely reliable and authoritative, it provides content and knowledge that is peer-reviewed and caters for students and teachers alike, with a view to raising the right questions and providing important information and leads which will not only prepare students for their essays, but also prepare them for their future progression to HE.

To facilitate access and use of the LE articles in relation to specific authors and topics taught in each school or college, content will be organised via our Bookshelves function, to make it relevant to individual teachers/ schools. Once a Bookshelf is created, this can be shared as a link across any teaching platform, by email and social media, etc. We would be delighted to fast-track the writing of some relevant articles on other key works, working with our experts, with a view to making them available by early April. We welcome suggestions from schools for articles on relevant literary topics and authors not yet offered by the LE.

We are also thinking of setting up “discuss your topic/author with a specialist” webinars/remote seminars, via the relevant teachers, in line with what is normally done in workshops and Open days in our Universities. This is the moment to bring expertise in schools and in universities together, as many of our contributors work with schools for Access and Widening participation.

In sum, we think that A level, Highers and IB students would greatly benefit from the resources rovided by the LE. Our articles are pitched at the right level and would allow for deeper learning in schools across the board. LE articles on authors, works and topics/periods/genres could be an excellent tool, crucial for preparing students for their university applications, including applications to Oxbridge and the Russell group, as well as, of course, for any type of HE application in Arts and Humanities subjects.

If you are interested in this initiative, please contact the Managing Editor, Dr Cristina Sandru, who can send you all the relevant information in order to kick-start the free subscription and explain to Libraries and teachers how to use it.

We hope you will find this proposal of interest and look forward to hearing from you.

On behalf of the English Literature editorial team:

  • Professor Chris Baldick (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Professor Peter Childs (Newman University, Birmingham)
  • Dr Daniel Cook (University of Dundee)
  • Dr Richard Dance (University of Cambridge)
  • Dr Dimitra Fimi (University of Glasgow)
  • Dr Natalie Hanna (University of Liverpool)
  • Dr Kerry Myler (Newman University)
  • Dr Jenni Ramone (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Professor John Roe (University of York)
  • Dr Nicholas Seager (University of Keele)
  • Dr Sean Seeger (University of Essex)

On behalf of the French Literature and Culture editorial team

  • Dr Marianne Ailes (University of Bristol)
  • Dr Hugo Azerad (University of Cambridge)
  • Dr Edward Forman (University of Bristol)
  • Professor Nigel Harkness (University of Newcastle)
  • Professor Akane Kawakami (Birkbeck, University of London)
  • Dr Jenny Mander (University of Cambridge)
  • Dr Síofra Pierse (University College Dublin)
  • Professor Jennifer Yee (University of Oxford)


(for full list, see What Our Users Say):

“The Literary Encyclopedia is proving an invaluable resource for students at Dulwich College. The constantly expanding collection of articles written by academics from around the world provides students with relevant and reliable information to enhance the quality of their research and enables them to write in confidence knowing that the information they have read is authoritative. The author chronologies provide an additional benefit allowing students to put an author’s works into historical context. A fantastic resource!” Paul Fletcher, Head of Libraries, Dulwich College, London

“The Literary Encyclopedia is without a doubt one of the most relevant sources for students in the arts, humanities and social sciences in particular, as it provides serious, up-to-date, and, most importantly, accurate and critical information about key authors and texts. A wonderful resource. The editors are most helpful and efficient, and I am happy to be a part of such a tremendous collective effort.” Alexis Mevel, PhD student, Department of French, University of Nottingham

“I consider Litencyc a very valuable tool and I recommend it constantly to my students; I think it is very important for us teachers to be able to show students that there are excellent online resources at their disposal. In the age of digital affluence it seems also pedagogically wise to 'ween' them from trusting too easily in Wikipedia and others that do not meet academic requirements.” Dominik Wallerius, PhD student and Tutor, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany

“I love the LE! I subscribed even though I've finished my studies because it's so interesting and useful. While a student, I found the LE an invaluable tool and a legitimate source for research. I knew that my tutors would approve of my use of the site as the articles are written by specialist scholars. The further research available through the recommended reading and web resources is incredibly helpful.” Hayley Cameron, former BA student, University of Dundee