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Online Biography Sources
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Classic source for biographical information on the United Kingdom and the British Empire, with nearly 58,000 biographies and nearly 11,000 portraits. Typical entries include a brief bibliography and relevant archival sources. Full-text searching makes the Oxford DNB much more than simply a biographical source. A search on "Chartist" for example returns more than 200 entries on individuals plus thematic articles. Also includes reference lists of office holders (e.g., prime ministers), reference groups (i.e., clubs, factions, and movements) and feature essays. One can search images by artist's name, by year, or by institution.
Brief biographical and bibliographical information on more than 130,000 authors from the United States and the rest of the world. While coverage is international, emphasis is given to the English-speaking world, with more than half the authors from the United States.
Literature Resource Center
Biographies, bibliographies, and critical analysis of authors and their works from every age and literary discipline. Literature Resource Center covers more than 130,000 novelists, poets, essayists, journalists and other writers, with in-depth coverage of 2,000 of the most studied authors. Searchable fields include: Author Name, Title, Genre, Literary Movement, and Literary Themes. In addition, users can access current, full text critical essays on major authors via the Literature Resource Center's link to more than 260 prominent literary journals. Also includes links to nearly 5000 web sites focusing on major authors and their works. Aimed more at undergraduates than at advanced researchers, but still a useful site.
Marquis Biographies Online
Brief biographical information on Americans in directory format. Common features include birth date and place, family, education and degree(s), career history, creative works, awards, military history, achievements, current memberships, interests/hobbies, and contact information. Includes more than 1.4 million biographies, with comprehensive coverage from 1985 to the present and historical biographies from 1607 onward.
Print Biography Sources
American National Biography by
Publication Date: 1999
Updates the Dictionary of American Biography, the American counterpart to the British Dictionary of National Biography which had many of the same strengths and weaknesses. This set is much better in its coverage of women and minorities, though the older set retains much interest.
British Biographical Archive by
Publication Date: 1984
A microfiche compilation of 324 biographical reference works published between 1601 and 1929, providing information on more than 170,000 names. See the four volume index, British Biographical Index, at ALEXANDER REF CT 773.B75 1990
Dictionary of National Biography
The famous multi-volume set chronicling deceased Britons from all periods. Helpful in tracking down obscure writers or peripheral literary figures. Be warned, however, that many of the biographies are more than a century-old, and thus lag well behind recent scholarship and often manifest marked biases. A fascinating look into the late Victorian mind-set.