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Senate House Library

Literary studies

Discover our extensive, varied, and sometimes surprising, collections of literature available in numerous formats and editions.

Search the catalogue for print and electronic books and journals. Visit our LibGuides platform for electronic databases for Literary Studies.

Leila Kassir: British, USA, Commonwealth, Latin American and Caribbean Literature


Andrea Meyer-Ludowisy: Western European Languages and Literature


Senate House Library's extensive literary studies collections provide an exceptional resource for the study of the discipline. The collections cover a diverse range of periods, themes, geographical areas and formats and encompass both the canonical and the obscure. Primary material in the form of unique archives, manuscripts and published first editions mix with secondary critical works and reprinted texts to provide researchers and students with access to a diversity of voices and expression.

This page provides an overview with spotlights on key features of our literary studies collections covering British, Western European, Latin American, Caribbean, Commonwealth and USA literature.

English Literature

Senate House Library holds a richly diverse collection of English literature, which has been developed since the Library’s foundation to support the study and research of the discipline. The core of the collection is a chronological span of texts from Old English to date encompassing canonical works represented by primary and secondary books and journals.

The collection is particularly strong in Medieval, Renaissance, Victorian and Modernist literature, and encompasses most literary genres.

Critical theory and works on comparative literature, alongside a collection on the development of the English language, also feature within this collection.

The collection’s journal provision spans both print and online formats, including an extensive range of 19thcentury periodicals. Manuscripts, archives, and first editions of English literature are all featured, dating from the 14th century onwards. The extensive print collection is supported by an increasing number of e-books, online journals and electronic resources, particularly those which contain digitised primary source material.

Main image credit: Cover image from The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon (Longman, 1987)

Subject spotlights

Western European Languages and Literatures

The Western European Literature collections provide scholarly insight into our immensely diverse European cultural heritage. The scope of these collections is naturally wide ranging and broadly covers European literature as well as topics as wide ranging as art, cultural memory, and exile studies.

The largest of the Western European Languages and Literature collections is the Romance language collection which broadly speaking covers the fields of linguistics, literature, and literary criticism which cross over into disciplines that are fragmented within linguistics, such as psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic approaches to language and multilingualism.

Further info